Safe Harbor: A Spiritual Refuge for the Mentally Ill

March 21st, 2012Jacqueline ConleyUnited Methodist Minister, Interfaith EducatorHost: Kate Marshall

About the Presentation

Jackie will help us appreciate the difference between spirituality and religion, challenging us to accept that treating the whole person means acknowledging mind, body and spirit. She will present some of the latest research on the impact of spirituality, both positive and negative, on the mentally ill, and will share resources on how to incorporate spirituality into the process of recovery and healing. She will illuminate and personalize these findings by reflecting on her experiences leading “Safe Harbor”, the spirituality group for members of the Chinook Clubhouse for the mentally ill.

About the Presenter

Jackie Conley is a United Methodist minister and inter-faith educator who joined the Advisory Board of the Chinook Clubhouse for the mentally ill in Boulder in 2007. It was her way of honoring the ten-year anniversary of the death of her son, Michael Brandon. He suffered from depression and died of a drug interaction between a prescription drug and alcohol. She wanted to learn more about mental illness and possibly use her experience with Brandon to help others struggling with depression and addiction. Her involvement with the Clubhouse Board and members led her on a remarkable journey of discovery and advocacy. Through immersion in the latest research and literature on recovery from mental illness, she was struck by the repeated references to the importance of spirituality as a component of healing for those suffering from brain disorders. If this is true, how was spirituality incorporated into the vision for the new Wellness Center of the Boulder Mental Health Partners? She learned first hand of the suspicions the mental health professionals had about even talking about the subject of spirituality with clients.

After two years on the Board, she was allowed to lead a small group in the Clubhouse exploring spirituality in the lives of those who came to “Safe Harbor”. The group shared life experiences, their spiritual journeys, and learned spiritual practices that are common to all the great religious traditions. Because of the positive response of members, “Safe Harbor” is distinguished to have the highest attendance and longevity of any small group that had ever met in the clubhouse. This got the attention of the staff of the Boulder Mental Health Center, resulting in Jackie being asked to help write the new staff training manual, seriously incorporating spirituality as a component of recovery from mental illness.

Additional Resources

Bibliography: Spirituality in Mental Health Recovery

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