Unitarian Universalist Mental Health Ministry
The Unitarian Universalist Mental Health Ministry is managed by the Reverend Barbara F. Meyers, a minister affiliated with the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, CA. The goals of the ministry are to seek to understand, improve, and uplift the lives of people with mental health difficulties and their families. The scope is the congregation, the denomination, and the larger community.
People with mental disorders and their families sit in our pews, on our streets, and in our jails. Frequently, a minister is the first person contacted by a person or a family undergoing mental health problems, and many ministers do not have a good working knowledge of how to handle such requests. One of the goals of the ministry is to inform faith leaders, their congregations, and the community at large about mental health, and the particular role of religion and spirituality in mental health. Another goal is to give hope to families and individuals with mental health problems, because hope is the start of recovery.
Reverend Meyers designed a ministry with four components:
1. Education: She has written the curriculum The Caring Congregation Handbook that is a program for educating a congregation about how to be more intentionally supportive of people with mental disorders and their families. To find out more, see Caring Congregation Curriculum.
2. Healing: She helps in pastoral care in the congregation, especially for people with mental disorders and their families. She is an assistant manager of the Reaching Across organization, a peer-run mental health center in Fremont, CA. She is also a spiritual director and provides companionship to people who are exploring their spiritual lives.
3. Social Justice: She participates in community mental health activities, advocating for people who have mental health problems. Her major project in this area is to be the producer and host of a public access television program called Mental Health Matters. Whatever topic is being discussed, she always tries to find someone with lived experience to talk about what it is like.
4. Priestly Functions: She leads worship services focusing on mental health issues.
The most important results of this ministry are the expressions of heart-felt gratitude from individuals with mental health problems that Reverend Meyers has helped through her work at the peer-support center, pastoral care, advocacy, worship, spiritual direction, and the television show.
Reverend Meyers was awarded a Mental Health Achievement award in 2010 from the Alameda County Mental Health Association in recognition of her work.
She has taught many workshops and led many worship services throughout the US on the subject of mental health and the response of the faith community.
Episodes of her monthly television program Mental Health Matters are broadcast locally, and also widely accessed on-line for viewing from the internet. The Alameda County Mental Health Board awarded the television show and its crew its media award in 2008.
Name: Reverend Barbara F. Meyers
Affiliation: Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Address: 38132 Kimbro Street, Fremont, CA 94536
Ministry Web site: www.mpuuc.org/mentalhealth