An Honest Perspective on Mental and Emotional Health

Written by Rachel Wermerskirchen, Church Council Member (2020)

Our lives are rife with uncertainty, change, and stress. While the pandemic and the resulting array of implications for our society and loved ones is a glaringly obvious reason, other factors such as political polarization, economic inequality, and social injustice also burden us with a plethora of unpleasant feelings. Fear, worry, depression, frustration, and anger can feel inescapable, overpowering, and sometimes paralyzing. Their presence can obstruct us from living the abundant lives that our loving God desires for us.

It is a tragedy that our society has a history of overlooking, under addressing, and stigmatizing mental illness and emotional suffering. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, recently spoke of mental health in a video published on social media. She said, “The church makes it clear that mental illness is not a sin. We are also very clear to say it is not a moral failing, nor is it a sign of weakness.”

SOTV is deeply committed to stewarding total body wellness, including the mental and emotional dimensions. For this reason, our staff recently established a partnership with Ellie Family Services, a respected provider of emotional and mental health care. I am one of several in our faith community who has benefitted from this initiative.

For many years, my anxiety disorder seemed to be well managed. I was applying the knowledge and practicing the strategies I learned in therapy years ago and taking medication that helped decrease my worrying. When a metaphorical storm upended my life about a year ago, I started struggling to manage increasing anxiety and depression. After acknowledging my worsening health, I decided to seek professional support. When SOTV announced the partnership with Ellie, I heard a whisper from the Holy Spirit, encouraging me to reclaim my life and restore my health. When I ignored those whispers, she continued to nudge me until I took action.

The process of getting started was straightforward. From the SOTV webpage about Ellie Family Services, I clicked on a link to complete an online referral form. A few days after I submitted it, a therapist contacted me to set up an initial appointment and advised me to fill out intake forms and provide my insurance information.

To protect the safety of its patients and employees, the Ellie therapists are currently conducting telehealth sessions (confidential video conferencing via a secure Internet-based connection). Once the respective facilities have safely reopened, on-site appointments will be available either at SOTV on Wednesday evenings or at one of Ellie’s clinic locations.

For the past few months, I have participated in weekly therapy sessions. As a result, I am:

  • Relieved that I can disclose my feelings to a professional in a secure environment
  • Motivated to monitor my mental and emotional health more frequently and from different perspectives
  • Learning practical strategies to manage my emotions in a well-grounded and effective manner

I am grateful to SOTV for caring deeply about the wellness of everyone in our faith community. If you need help, I urge you to seek care. You are loved. You are important. You are worthy.

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