In Sunday’s gospel, John 14:15-21, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The GREATEST commandment is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind–‘ the biggest “to do” of the Christian faith! How many of us hear we need to “work harder” at loving God in THREE ways? …What about loving smarter? What if loving God best starts with loving ourselves, and good self-care, so we are able to love God more fully?
- What if we were more intentional about keeping our heart strong and free to love God?
- What if we were intentional about our soul-care? Talking to an elder, pastor or spiritual director, when feeling disconnected.
- Can we lessen our mind’s distractions and improve our mental health?
These are some of the questions we explore in L4TD’s worshipful support groups.
Reach out If Light 4 the Darkness can help. We want to be a resource.
Last week we offered the Rural Perspective on Faith and Mental Health from a L4TD member. For May we offer a different perspective weekly. This week’s perspective is offered by Provident Behavioral Health’s practitioners.
Provident’s Crisis Intervention Specialists’ Perspectives on Faith and Mental Health
Several presbytery and L4TD members are connected to Provident; their vision and mission are inspiring.
Vision: Mentally healthy communities through quality behavioral health services accessible to all. Mission: Building brighter futures through exceptional behavioral health services, especially for those with the greatest need.
Emily Wright, Crisis Intervention Specialist, BA in Psychology
Fun facts: I love animals and nature, have a crystal collection, and do special effects make-up for fun.
Go-to skills to help clients? First listen, then assess what would be most impactful for their specific needs: a coping skill, minimal self-disclosure to normalize a feeling they are experiencing, or validating their struggles.
Niki Klco, Crisis Intervention Mentor
Fun fact: I have a bearded dragon who I treat as my emotional support animal.
Go-to skill for clients? Reframing-looking at a circumstance from a different angle. This has been life-changing for me and I often use it with my callers.
Kirstin D Hays, Crisis Intervention Counselor/Mentor
Fun fact: I’m a Southern Yankee! I was born in Massachusetts but grew up in Louisiana. Letting the good times roll was how we celebrated life’s ups & downs by responding, “Oui, cher,” determined to always find the “silver lining” in almost any situation.
Go-to skill for clients? Bedtime brain-dump: writing all your random thoughts, with no expectation that these thoughts will make sense when read together; it recognizes each thought, offering a unique self-validation.
How does faith inform your work?
Emily: As a Christian, I stand by my values with every crisis call. I start by asking God to use me to help others. Respect, compassion, empathy, and a goal to “do more good than harm” guide my work. I exhibit my faith through my behaviors and values. I do not force my beliefs on my callers because everyone’s relationship with God is their own; however, if a caller asks me to pray for them, I will.
Niki: My faith underlies everything I do. It informs how I live and interact with others. We never know who will call; I rely on grace each time I answer. Every situation is unique, although there are similarities. I walk beside the person regardless of where they are. While the caller is the expert, I provide guidance, accompaniment, support, and resources.
Kirstin: My faith in knowing that all people can make positive changes, whether large or small, to reshape their life is a primary motivation that drives me daily to do my best with each person.
What is the hardest part of being a mental health clinician?
Emily: Self-care during and after high-risk calls.
Niki: The population is transient and we often do not know how our callers are doing after the call. Caller’s say that we will not remember them, but I assure you that we do.
Kirstin: Emotional drain or compassion fatigue can spiral out of control without diligent self-care. Having authentic feelings such as hope, empathy, and my natural desire to help makes crisis intervention successful, but at times can be a detriment to self.
Where do you find hope?
Emily: Giving relief or hope to someone who has felt hopeless for a long time is what I love most about working on the crisis lines. It feels good to make a difference in someone’s life, or to even be a stepping stone for someone to start their mental health journey.
Niki: Everyday joys, biking home from work, and listening to music because it helps me relax and reflect on the day. I find joy outdoors; the earth has healing qualities, centering me and providing my soul balance. I find hope in the human connection; sometimes messy, but ultimately, it’s what drives me.
Kirstin: I find hope in watching my daughter attempting a new activity like playing volleyball or learning to master the trumpet, and ultimately in the overall perseverance of people. Hope is an overwhelmingly powerful emotion shown throughout the Hunger Games Series. “Hope – it is the only thing stronger than fear,” resonated within me. Hope is a choice – you can choose hope or give into fear; hope is what allows people to strive toward dreams and goals.
What else do you want Giddings-Lovejoy to know about your work at Provident?
Emily: Provident is the healthiest work environment I have enjoyed. This job has been incredible to me for many reasons. I am thankful to have a platform to help people everyday.
Niki: A NY Times article says, as crisis workers we are “taking calls from versions of (our) former selves,” which was extremely apt and true. All of us answering the crisis calls have walked through our own mental health challenges, including me.
(Provident practitioner responses compiled and edited by Thirza Sayers)