National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Interfaith Spiritual Support in Seattle’s House of Healing
Plymouth House of Healing welcomes individuals from the inpatient psychiatric units of Seattle’s county hospital directly into healing community. The new residents have been homeless and live at the House for up to six months while beginning recovery. Four volunteer companions give a year of service to live in the House, providing acceptance, support and encouragement to the residents.
The House of Healing is rooted in the life of Plymouth Congregational Church. Now in its tenth year, it is supported as a gift and resource for the wider community. Plymouth House of Healing is a center of sharing: all who pass through its bright red door to live, volunteer or learn are invited into new understanding and growth.
The House seeks to be both supportive of each person’s spiritual life and respectful of the differences and needs that each individual brings. In the basement there is a meditation room, where members of the House community can share quietly, be in study or meet together in prayer. In the public areas of the House, residents and companions talk of many things, including their faith and religion. Each person’s view and background is respected. Each person’s room is their personal sanctuary, where they may practice his or her faith in privacy.
Evening meals begins with a simple round of gratitude, with each participant sharing a brief word of thanks. Birthdays, arrivals, departures and festive holiday dinners are celebrated. One-third of the residents over the years were been born in countries outside the United States and share a rich array of traditions, beliefs and ritual. During December, the residents share their holiday traditions with special meals and food, decorations, a tree, lights and the making of gifts offered to the wider community.
Our basic orientation to life, our philosophy and our faith can be important elements in healing and recovery from mental illness. Spiritual resources and practices can be helpful in finding balance, center and hope in our lives. Religion can also be a source of pain, especially when a person has been shamed, shunned or judged. At Plymouth House, we are continually exploring the intersection of faith and mental illness, honoring each person’s unique journey with tenderness.
Life together in the House, the process of healing, the practice of companionship, building caring relationships and a community of wellness, constantly encourages and challenges us.
Plymouth House of Healing is one of several programs of Plymouth Healing Communities that provides transitional and long-term supported housing for low-income persons. They work in creative partnership with the Harborview Community Mental Health Center and the Mental Health Chaplaincy in Seattle. To learn more, visit www.phoh.org