If ministry is a challenge, ministry during COVID is a marathon sprint up Everest in an ice storm. Even if you’re freezing, the very thought of stopping to knit yourself long underwear is laughable. Especially if you don’t know how to knit.
For many of us, looking for a new mental health care provider right now might feel similarly laughable. Absurd. Overwhelming. After all, that process can be daunting in the best of times, and these are definitely not the best of times. Yet so many of us are saying that we’re feeling burned out, anxious, depressed, lethargic, grief-stricken, apathetic, or irritable. Now, perhaps more than ever, is when we truly need the support those providers can offer.
As part of a larger effort to support the mental health and wellness of clergy, the Commissions on Ministry, Spiritual Leader Development, and Thriving, with the Ministry Group Conveners, and The Center have gathered a small group of coaches who are available to accompany you in this process. These “Provider Search Coaches” will meet with you for 20-30 minutes at a time to support you in researching potential mental health professionals and creating a manageable action plan, and to offer accountability. The presbytery is subsidizing the cost of these sessions, so it is free for you.
If you are interested in meeting with a Provider Search Coach, please email me at email@example.com, and I will reply with the list of coaches and their contact information. This process is confidential.
Through our listening, the Commissions, the Conveners, and the Center also heard many clergy who are in small peer- or support-groups say that those have been a lifesaver. We would like to encourage all pastors to find or form those groups either within or outside of the presbytery. If you are curious about where to start or what such a group might look like, please call or email.
Finally, please remember that we are here as a listening ear and a resource. Many of us have had our own struggles with mental health; some of us live with mental illness. We are happy to offer our understanding, answer questions when we can, point you in the direction of coaches, spiritual directors, and (of course) mental health providers, and pray with you.
We wish you God’s peace this week, and we pray that you have the opportunity to relax and give thanks. We are deeply grateful for each and every one of you.