May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Written by Ryan Fallgren
May 30, 2013

Of Washington state's 6.5 million residents, close to 219,000 adults and 71,000 children live with serious mental health conditions. Currently, the state of Washington's public mental health system provides services to only 29 percent of adults who need them. Seattle University's School of Theology of Ministry is actively working to meet this incredible need locally, as well as nationally and globally through the work of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends actively working in the field.

Just a few months away, on January 1 2014, the Affordable Care Act will take effect, providing not only benefits for individuals with mental health conditions, but will also present demand for mental health professionals to meet the growing need. All health plans will cover essential health benefits, including mental health and integrated / holistic health care offerings. Medicaid is expanding to cover 328,000 additional people in Washington state alone. Reports share that thousands of care professionals will be required as small employers receive sizable tax rebates for providing health insurance, large employers are required to offer meaningful and affordable health insurance to either employees, and individuals and families will no longer have to pay out-of-pocket costs for preventative services (mental health included at times). Here at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry, we are not only preparing the next generation of therapists and mental health professional to meet these real societal needs, but our students and alumni are well-equipped to address the complex needs of our multicultural and pluralistic society with a deep-seated understanding of the holistic person and its need for integrated care.

According to the Office for Budget Management (as reported in Nation of Change News), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will have lost about $275 million under sequestration, with serious consequences for the mentally ill. This means:
??? ?684,000 individuals will lose critical employment and housing assistance, case management services, and school- based supports;
??? ?1.13 million children and adults will be at risk of losing access to any type of public mental health support;
??? ?1,300 youth with severe emotional disturbances will lose access to treatment services;
??? ?More than 320,000 children will not receive coordinated mental health services, early intervention and prevention programming, and other suicide prevention services.

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's newly augmented counseling degree, the Master of Arts in Relationship & Pastoral Therapy (MARPT), is designed to meet the mental health, healthcare, recovery and therapy needs of our local, national and global community with professionals that are intentionally prepared for the current and emerging challenges in our world. Students that emerge from this unique program address holistic, integrated health and are worldclass clinicians with acute awareness, educated sensitivity and openness to all forms of diversity in clients. Students are intentionally trained to serve in this new delivery of services environment.

Dr. Clinton McNair, the school's director of Relationship & Pastoral Counseling Programs as well as core faculty, remarked:
"It is noteworthy that mental health care now has parity with health care, and has been integrated into all health care. In the state of Washington which has been organizing for over a year now will be a part of the AHCA. It is estimated that under Medicaid expansion more than 477,000 people will qualify for subsidies to help them afford coverage. This means that communities across the U.S. are looking for ways to increase capacity for mental health services. The Master of Arts in Relationship & Pastoral Therapy is a Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) degree that is designed to train students to serve in this new delivery of services environment--an environment where there is a demand for more and more MFT/mental health professionals. Our program also helps students integrate spirituality and behavioral sciences with systems orientation."?

Dr. Christie Eppler, one of the school's core faculty dedicated to our MARPT students, shares:
"I am glad that there is a month devoted to Mental Health Awareness. I think it is important to acknowledge our sisters and brothers who have diagnosed or undiagnosed conditions such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, autism, and dementia (among others). During this month and throughout each year, we are called to see each individual, family, and community as fearfully and wonderfully made. Mental illness stems from biological, social, and personal hardships. Coping resources that worked at one point in our lives may not help us function optimally in the present. For example, anxiety could have been a motivating force to reach a goal, but now paralyzes us to keep a forward momentum. Relationship and Pastoral Therapists help couples, families, and individuals become aware of mental health conditions and the resources that can bolster coping and healing. During this Month of Mental Health Awareness (and in each new day), we shine the light on the both the risk and resiliency factors that make us whole."?
Here is just one set of stories among hundreds--of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends working in mental health all over the globe:
You may have heard CarolynDougherty's story--one of our soon-to-be MARPT alumni who was just hired as Program Manager for Seattle's esteemed Recovery Caf? (you can watch her video interview here, filmed at the Caf? itself). The Caf?'s Founding Director, Killian Noe, is Adjunct Faculty for the School as well as a featured author at the 2013 Search for Meaning Book Festival.Ruby Takushi, also the school's Adjunct Faculty, is the Caf?'s Mental Health Specialist and Dean of the School for Recovery. Current MA in Transformational Leadership student, Jen Leard, is a dedicated employee and runs the monthly open mic nights which are accompanied by an incredibly hand-served meal (3 of our students volunteered at last month's event!). Mary Ellen Weber, MA in Transforming Spirituality Alumna, is on Recovery Caf? board member as well--alongside some other active friends of the school. Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry is deeply involved in the Recovery Caf?, which serves as a unique model for recovery services worldwide, as well as a slough of other institutions from hospitals to private practice to social service providers.

This month, we honor all those that are giving expertise, energy, heart and passion to those in our local, national and global community--particularly those affiliated with our very own School of Theology and Ministry. Thank you for your incredible service.

More info about the MA in Relationship & Pastoral Therapy visit here.
More info about Professional Certificates for mental health professionals, visit here.?
Learn more about local healthcare
An example how the United Methodist Church is sharing about Mental Health Awareness Month, here.


Graphic from the General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church, ?
Reference: Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner