(May 7, 2007)

The mental health service at church surpassed my expectations. It was so wonderful that I spent the rest of yesterday in a bit of a daze, trying to process it all while listening to the CD that was made.

The speakers from the Living Room group spoke openly and from the heart. The congregation was warm and welcoming. They gave the speakers a hearty applause. Our pastor presented the sermon part in a compassionate way. It was more like a friendly talk. He spoke of how we need to look at Jesus in how we live and how we treat others. It wasn’t a sad or painful morning at all. All that was discussed was straight forward and honest and natural. There was a wonderful touch of humor here and there.  I felt uplifted by it all and I know others did too. Many stayed behind to talk with the speakers.

The icing on the cake was the beautiful performance of one of the Living Room members playing the piano while another sang.

Our pastor mentioned how Living Room isn’t complete without chocolate. And it’s true. Without fail, we have dishes of chocolate on the table at the meetings. We consider it good “medicine.” So as people left the sanctuary the pastors’ wives served chocolates to them.

As a result of yesterday, a couple of people in the church have indicated they would like to come to the next Living Room meeting. This is the great thing about talking so openly about mental health problems. By making it an OK thing to talk about, those who are suffering feel more free to openly share with others what they are going through. There is no longer a need to keep their pain to themselves. They no longer need to be alone in their struggles, but can find support from people who care.

This is what reducing stigma can do for people. And reducing stigma is possible. Little by little we can do it.