Two weeks ago I attended the Pathways to Hope Conference, a community-wide conference sponsored by over 10 faith based organizations and communitywide mental health organizations and representatives from law enforcement agencies in San Antonio.
I found the collaboration with faith leaders in the community, law enforcement and mental health providers inspiring and comforting. I was particularly moved by a pastor of a large mega congregation who courageously spoke about his own struggles with mental illness, the support of his congregation, the mental health community and the importance of working together to debunk the stigma associated with mental illness, those who struggle and their families.
When I was a patient at the Menninger Clinic, my doctor’s understanding of my own conflicts with my faith and my mental illness gave me permission to discuss the battle in my soul with my debilitating clinical depression. Feeling as if I had fallen into a pit of hopelessness and at the same time as if my higher power was no longer real in my life was the most devastating experience I had ever known.
Attending a conference where faith leaders joined hands with mental health leaders to collaborate on behalf of those who suffer with mental health illnesses and those who love them engendered a sense of relief and hope for the future that I had not experienced before. I left grateful and hopeful for those who suffer.
I found this conference through NAMI San Antonio, an organization who aims to improve the quality of life for all people affected by mental illness. For resources or more information, visit http://nami-sat.org/.