From November’s InterConnections feature story, online at

When the Rev. Barbara Meyers began a mental health ministry at the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Fremont, Calif., in 2005 it was the only one. Not anymore. Now there are several others, including Quimper UU Fellowship in Port Townsend, Wash., and Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colo.

Establishment of a mental health ministry generally requires one committed person within a congregation or a small, dedicated group to make it happen, says Meyers. That’s the case at both Port Townsend and Golden. Meyers has written a curriculum, The Caring Congregation Handbook, about educating a congregation about how to be intentionally supportive of people with mental disorders and their families.

At the Quimper fellowship Judy Tough had been a volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). That work grew out of the fact she has family members with bipolar disorder.

What would happen, she wondered, if congregations could become a place where mentally ill people, as well as families of those with a mental illness, could feel safe talking about it?

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About the Author
Sonja L. Cohen
Sonja L. Cohen is managing editor of InterConnections and senior editor of UU World magazine.

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