National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI FaithNet Newsletter: June 2010

Welcome to the June issue of the NAMI FaithNet Newsletter.

In This Issue:

  • Wrestling with Our Inner Angels Author to Speak at NAMI Convention
  • Additional NAMI FaithNet Offerings at the NAMI National Convention
  • Sharing Hope: Updated Materials and New Implementation Grant Sites
  • Congruence in Faith and Action: Inclusivity in New Orleans
  • An Unlikely Circle of Friends
  • Kendra’s Law: Justice Renewed

Wrestling with Our Inner Angels Author to Speak at NAMI Convention

Nancy Kehoe, RSCJ, Ph.D., author of Wrestling with our Inner Angels: Faith, Mental Illness and The Journey to Wholeness, will speak at the 2010 NAMI Annual Convention on Friday, July 2.

In accordance with the 2010 convention theme, “Recovery and Reform: The Road from Here,” Kehoe’s symposium will explore the role of spirituality in recovery for people living with mental illness.

Kehoe, who is both a Sacred Heart nun and clinical psychologist, will discuss Wrestling with our Inner Angels. This moving narrative traces the pioneering journey she began 29 years ago when she initiated groups focused on spirituality for men and women who were in a psychiatric day treatment program.

The religious beliefs of persons living with mental illness often elicit fear, hesitation and confusion from their counselors and loved ones, many of whom think that those beliefs are dangerous delusions. In return, persons with mental illness can refrain from disclosing their values out of fear that their religious worldview will be considered a part of the very illness for which they seek treatment.

Given that the vast majority of Americans say that they have an active religious faith, counselors and clients are in need of insight into the psychology of belief. Kehoe draws on both her experiences in conducting group counseling sessions for persons living with mental illness and in training professionals how to understand the role of religious beliefs in the lives of their clients.


Additional NAMI FaithNet Offerings at the NAMI National Convention

Join us for the 2010 NAMI Annual Convention in Washington, DC June 30 – July 3 and then celebrate the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital!

Come and explore the many dimensions of spirituality and mental health education, awareness and recovery at the NAMI FaithNet networking session, workshop and exhibit booth. New training modules will be introduced to help equip attendees for faith community outreach. Mark your calendars now!

View the convention schedule and register at


Sharing Hope: Updated Materials and New Implementation Grant Sites

The NAMI Sharing Hope: Understanding Mental Health initiative is continuing to flourish. Developed in 2008 by the NAMI Multicultural Action Center to assist the organization in reaching out to and partering with African American congregations, Sharing Hope aims to strip away stigma and facilitate important discussions about mental illness support within these congregations. Sharing Hope materials have been updated and NAMI has begun working with four new grant sites. The 2010 revised edition of the Sharing Hope toolkit, now available to NAMI state organizations and local affiliates, includes even more detailed information and tools to assist coordinators and presentation facilitators in successfully engaging congregations.

In their first year with the Sharing Hope initiative, the eight 2009 implementation grantees made great strides in developing partnerships with African American congregations. Through these efforts, they were able to provide the Multicultural Action Center with invaluable evaluation data and feedback that informed these revisions.

Visit the NAMI website for more information.

Contact us to express your interest in taking part in the Sharing Hope initiative.


Congruence in Faith and Action: Inclusivity in New Orleans

Alan Johnson’s experience during a church mission trip in New Orleans reminds him that sometimes both individuals and their faith communities struggle to practice true inclusivity.

Johnson is the founder of the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness of Boulder and Broomfield Counties in Colorado and co-facilitates a local NAMI Family-to-Family program.

This article is reprinted with the expressed consent and approval of Exceptional Parent, a monthly magazine for parents and families of children with disabilities and special health care needs. The article first appeared in the April 2010 issue on pages 32-35.

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An Unlikely Circle of Friends

The Providence Journal recently ran a poignant piece about Paul Greenberg, a Brookline, Mass. native who experienced the onset of schizophrenia while attending college in Israel. Following a difficult series of hospitalizations, medications and the death of his father, he befriended a number of local rabbis and police officers. Greenberg may never have known the impact he had on his unlikely circle of friends.

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Kendra’s Law: Justice Renewed

An article in America, a national Catholic weekly magazine, reflects on a New York State law that mandates outpatient treatment for people with serious mental illness who are considered a danger to others and do not cooperate with their treatment. The thoughtful article raises some complicated questions that can be viewed through theological, political and medical lenses.

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