Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hope Church Expands Caring

The team of trainers at Hope Church in Mason have launched a great program to equip a core team of men and women who know how to "Heal the broken hearted and set the captives free" as it commands us to do in Isaiah 61. and Luke 4.

The core team, called "Hope Renewed," is under the direction of Steve Griebling, a board member of Sweeten Life Systems. Steve and I developed twin programs to minister care and cure of the soul beginning in 1982. We have written most of the materials and trained people around the world how to turn churches into caring/growth communities.

Dorothy Geverdt, a long term friend and co-author of some of our materials, is his right hand trainer. They are raising up an army of Befrienders with the ability to raise the level of health in the entire church. They also offer soul care to people in distress whether from Hope Church or the community.

You can check up on them by visiting their web page.

Come to Hope and find love, care and God's word.

Prevention of Overwhelming Mental and Emotional Despair

The behavior that really helps people get healthier! See my book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty for an explanation and deeper understanding.

In my last post I laid out a very brief overview of the five levels of mental and emotional distress. I dislike describing every distressful feeling event as "Mental Illness". Being upset does not mean we are mentally ill. Getting support and counsel does not mean we are mentally ill.

When Rick and Kay Warren's son died so tragically and publicly, there were numerous articles about how the church needs to reach out to people with a mental illness. Here is my view of that need as a person involved in training Peer and Professional Counselors since 1970. Those calls will backfire!
Why do they create more not less resistance to provide support for people with mental and emotional distress?

1. It scares Pastors and Elders. They recoil at the mental image of the church becoming a Psychiatric unit.

2. They usually focus on people with the most difficult cases. The Level Fives on my Scale. But this group is no more than 2% to 4% of the population. The media tells stories about people who struggle with suicidal thoughts, psychosis, violent urges, killing rampages, domestic abuse, etc in order to grab our attention.

3. Most Pastors and Elders are already overwhelmed by trying to find someone to teach Junior High kids and visit widows and shut-ins. They are trying to get the people to witness to neighbors let alone counsel the mentally ill.

4. Church Lawyers fear lawsuits and higher insurance costs.

5. The Pastors imagine giving out medication and having to confront psychotic members! They are too frightened to even think of doing it.

The remedy? Train every member in communication skills. We all need to know how to listen and solve problems. We all need to know how to resolve differences and reduce silly conflicts. We need Primary Prevention not Crisis Management.

It is not rocket science but people relationships. This will reduce pain, prevent divorces, heal family strife and make life at church more peaceful as well as solve most disputes between Pastors and Elders!

See my next post, watch my videos on caring and Building People Up! Read my books and papers on "Equipping all Christians to reduce mental, emotional and spiritual distress." 

The chart above shows that emotionally distressed people do not need "Expert Input" but friend and family who will care. Have a cup of tea together. Go to lunch. Pray! Get in a small group.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Levels of Emotional Distress

Since we know that many people among us have stresses, strains and emotionally distressing events and yet they are anything but Mentally Ill. In fact, some people face deep grief from the loss of a loved one and bounce back even stronger. That is resiliency not illness.

Others face minor problems and losses and lose their composure for weeks. Are they Mentally Ill or just fragile? Maybe a bit of both.

Mental Illness implies that a person has a brain that is sick, diseased and unable to change. Can a person be depressed but not actually physically ill?

One of the main issues facing us as humans is the fact that some people grow up in families and develop an ability to face difficulties and attacks and bounce back. We call it RESILIENCY! People with an ability to bounce back from a strong shock or trauma has a good "shock resiliency" but some people grow up without that ability.

We have some relatives that can hardly stand minor disappointments but handle big issues with calm serenity.
In other words, we are all different.

The 5 Levels of Emotional Distress:

1. Very Healthy, Resilient and Peaceful.

2. Fairly Healthy and Peaceful

3. Distressed and Developing Unhealthy Behaviors

4. Very Distressed: Mental, Emotional and Relational Anxiety

5. Overcome by Stress, Emotional Distress and so Fragile a Disturbance can Overwhelm


Everybody has a story if we just listen. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Is Everyone Mentally Ill?

We sure hear a lot about Mental Illness from the papers, TV and now some church leaders. After Matthew Warren shot himself there were some tweets, blogs and articles that either attacked Rev. Warren and his wife or attacked churches for a lack of compassion toward those with Mental Illness.

In other words, the social media was all over the place because people are in many different places and all it takes to seem like an expert is write you opinion on Facebook.

First, allow me to say that every time a person feels depressed, sad or angry does not mean he/she is mentally ill. Unfortunately, many people throw those terms out to describe anyone with a conflict or who is having emotional distress. These groups tend to say that 20% of Americans are mentally ill and every one of them needs professional, clinical counseling! That is too high, and, in my opinion, anyone in distress can receive assistance from family and friends. (See Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty for details on how to help hurting persons.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

During an intense time of research about how best to support families with a disabled child, I came across a great article by Dr. Knestrict called, Holland. It tells how parents who have a disabled child are very much like a couple planning to fly to Italy for vacation only to land in Holland. They never planned on being in Holland so what do they do? He relates how different parents, he calls them Remarkable Parents, decide to make the most of Holland for, after all, that is where the plane landed.

I was very excited and copied the article to take it to my meeting at Panera Bread with my partner Ron Peake.  I walked excitedly into Panera and said “Ron! I just found an article by some Professor at Xavier named Tom Knestrict. He is doing research on our issue and he lives here in Mason!” All of a sudden a guy at a back table shouted, “That is me. I am Tom Knestrict!”

It did not take long for us to become friends and colleagues with this Christian man. Later we attended the Remarkable Families seminar at Xavier and another God thing occurred. One of his speakers failed to show and a woman that heard me preach at Horizon asked if I could pinch hit. The topic was “Cognitive Theory and Stress Reduction!” I excitedly said “YES!” I shared the Power Christian Thinking materials from my book! 

The next year Dr. Knestrict invited me to be the keynote speaker. See the Vimeo recording at Sweeten 

My friends, God is at work and we need your ongoing support as we launch tools that can impact health American care. I have long desired to see Christians impact the nation and this could be the way it happens.  Led Us to Dr. Knestrict:

What Is A Mood Disorder?

Research shows that the number of people suffering from Mood Disorders is growing. What are Mood Disorders? The usual answer is Depression and Anxiety.

Since WWII the number of people diagnosed with Mood Disorders has grown and grown a lot! There are many attempts to understand why but we do not really know.

Because of the increase in the number of people using drugs both legal and illegal, the actual number of people with a Mood Disorder may even be a lot higher than estimates. Taking drugs and alcohol are often attempts at treating problems up and down moods.

Let me introduce another term: Bi-Polar. It is a way of describing a disorder that varies their moods from Very High (Mania) to Very Low (Depression).

Think of a Scale on Emotions from Zero to Ten .

A Zero indicates a person is calm and peaceful. Not high or low. A ten on the up side indicates the person is so high he/she is out of control. We can call it "speeding" by talking fast, moving fast, thinking fast, telling stories fast and jumping from topic to topic fast. It is irrational and the person cannot make it stop. In fact, he/she may not want to make it stop because it feels GREAT!!!

A person who is 8-9 or 10 on Mania will feel great but tend to make terrible decisions such as buying cars, spending money, donating everything to the poor, or gambling.

Have you ever seen this type of emotional mania? It is growing in America.

It can be treated with good medicine and talk therapy. Friends can help friends by encouraging them to seek help. Read my book Power Christian Thinking for assistance.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why Give Up on Life?

With the deaths of several famous persons over the past few years there have been many tweets, FB Posts, articles and rants about Mental Illness, Addictions, Depression, and so similar issues.

It is all so confusing because so many people post things that indicate their own confusion.

It was already a hodgepodge of contradictory thoughts when we heard that Robin Williams also had Parkinson's!  The reporters breathlessly broke into programs and announced it with wide eyed intensity. "Robin Williams depression was exacerbated by Parkinson's!!!"

As if that explains anything.

Few of the articles were insightful and even fewer were educational. Sadly, most were designed to:

Defend the Deceased Person
Attack the Deceased Person
Explain the actions of the Deceased Person
Attack society, the family, the doctors, society or God for what they did or did not do.
Attack the media for their treatment of the Deceased Person

In other words, they were self-serving and often hysterical.

No one can explain why a person does it. (Except the Person and even then it will be confusing.)

Secondly, no one makes a person do those things or feel so badly they have to do them. Millions of people face trials, diseases, attacks, bullying, poverty, daily as great or greater without ending it all. The reasons are within the Person and we cannot explain them.

Third, we cannot stop a person if they are committed to do it. We cannot save another person. No government program, church sermon or book can stop someone from carrying out a plan. Parents cannot do it, preachers cannot do it and counselors cannot do it without the "permission" of the Person. It is because we have "Free Will".

Fourth, we can sometimes intervene and motivate a person to change his/her plans. It takes love, listening and lots of patience with intense prayers to encourage a human to change his/her course of action.

So, do not give up trying. if they refuse to stop doing drugs, throw the gun away or pour the poison out, it is not our fault. This fact can motivate us to work hard without taking responsibility for their Free Will.

Fifth, taking medicine and talking to a counselor will help. In fact, counseling usually helps. And, counseling plus good medicine and exercise really help relieve deep depression.

In 25 years of running a clinic we have had only two or three people end their lives. That is remarkable because we have worked with thousands of humans who were feeling despair. Here is the good news! Thousands received great relief.

My own mother was healed of deep depression through counseling and prayers after dad died.

Sixth, God will not leave you so do not give up on God.

Seventh, read some good materials. Try Power Christian Thinking for starters.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Powerful Reminder of the Past, Present and Future

This is a heart warming and transforming video of a few seconds without a word being said that touches me deeply. It was developed as a commercial but promotes great values not just products.

Americans are very blessed. i did not have any control about the parents I have or the country in which I was born and have citizenship. That was God's grace for which we have no explanation.

Some Americans react with anger and resentment about the blessings of America. Our wealth, freedom, ability to worship or refuse to worship all bring agony to them and some attempt to change our country and make it like other less blessed places.

Not me. I am very happy to be born in a nation where, although poor and sick I was able to get an education and do very well because I could innovate and create wealth. I do not want to kill America but pass its strengths and blessings on to the world.

I do that by teaching people in over 100 nations how to live in peace and prosperity with their families and neighbors. Freedom within leads to freedom in relationships and freedom in politics and work. Inner, spiritual death leads to physical, relational and political destruction.

As an educator, I want to learn how better to share my values half as well. Everything I teach and write has these themes. Pass it on. (See my web for great materials, cheap as eBooks on PDF.)

Gary Sweeten

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Feeling Thankful for America

There are many ways to be thankful for America. Serving in the military is one way and serving others professionally is another. Doctors, nurses, teachers, and others in the service professions all serve. It is a mission and calling.

Another way is to show our appreciation symbolically. Take a look at this symbol and see if your pride swells.

When I chat with my friends in Russia or read about the Middle East I am so happy to be blessed by being born and reared in America. I don't blame illegal immigrants for coming here. I know why they do.

I wish we could take all 6 Billion poor people in and feed them. But, i fear that would kill America. America is generous, kind and caring. I wish all nations were as well.

What makes you proud to salute the flag?