I Don’t Want to Talk About it! Spirituality & Mental Illness in Faith Communities

January 19th, 2011Alan Johnson, M.Div.The First Congregational Church, BoulderAnne Weiher, Ph.D.President, NAMI Board of DirectorsHost: Barry Erdman

About the Presentation

The basis of my conversation will be grounded in my experiences in understanding and then applying mental health concerns in a faith community. Given my personal involvements with persons who are mentally ill/have a brain disorder and given my 40 years of ordained ministry in local congregations, in the national setting of the United Church of Christ, and in Hospice and adult and children hospitals, I will bring those perspectives to spirituality and mental health. Questions that will be addressed are “why is spirituality denied?” “How can religion be harmful to one’s mental health as well as helpful?”

Along with drawing on my own experiences I will bring up the work of Nancy Kehoe (“Wrestling with our Inner Angels: Faith, Mental Illness, and the Journey to Wholeness,”) and the most recent national conference that I have coordinated titled, “Widen the Welcome: Inclusion for All.”

About the Presenters

Alan Johnson, M.Div. is a graduate of Yale University Divinity School, M.Div., and for 16 years was on the national staff of the UCC in the area of spiritual and membership growth and been a pastor in local congregations in NYC and CT as well as chaplain in Boulder and Denver. He edited “The Great Commission” by Mortimer Arias, complied “Herman Reissig: Uneasily in Love with God,” and wrote “Encounters at the Counter: What Congregations can learn about Hospitality from Business.”  Presently he is the chair of his church’s Mental Health Ministry, a cofounder of the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness for Boulder and Broomfield Counties, and is the national chair of the UCC Mental Illness Network and developing a Clergy Mental Illness Resource website.

Anne Weiher, Ph.D. is a mental health consumer who has been actively involved in her recovery from bipolar disorder for over 20 years.  She continues to work with various mental health organizations to provide support for those impacted by mental illness and is committed to trying to break down some of the stereotypes and stigma surrounding mental illness.  Dr. Weiher is also a member of the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness Steering Committee, an outreach program of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-Boulder County and is currently President of the NAMI Board of Directors.

Additional Resources


OUTLINE of Alan’s presentation

FICA: Spiritual Assessment Handout from presentation

Ten steps for Developing a Mental Health Ministry in Your Congregation

The Language of Mental Illnesses, Brain Disorders and Disabilities: The Importance of Words

See FLYER about Alan’s book, “Encounters at the Counter” that is available atAmazon.com.  It is about his year’s experience in customer service at Great Harvest Bread Company in Boulder.  It addresses spirituality and hospitality.

Alan Johnson
[email protected]

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