Downtown Oakland, CA-- Every year, at the County Administration Building Courtyard in Downtown Oakland, Gigi Crowder from Alameda County’s BHCS hosts a Mental Health National Day of Prayer for the community, and every year, PEERS joins the community in supporting this momentous annual event.
In the middle of the morning rush, PEERS staff offered hurried students and folks on their way to work to enjoy breakfast with hot coffee and orange juice, and invited them to take a moment to hear more about why we were all gathered together on this day. Although not everyone could stop for more than a minute or so, many were able to hear the messages being shared by the speakers and performers of the day.
“We recognize that individuals [who] live with mental health challenges, before they seek out any services in our traditional system, they first go to their faith community,” says Crowder. She went on to explain that Mental Health National Day of Prayer is especially important during this time because of the recent stereotypes in the media around violence with people health. “We want to dispel stereotypes around violence, because we know that individuals who live with mental health challenges are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence.”
Mental Health National Day of Prayer is more than taking time to pray and offer well wishes for the mental health community, but also an opportunity to show the community the important role faith plays in the lives of those on their journey to wellness and recovery. Speakers from various associations, organizations, religious and ethnic backgrounds took turns on the stage, telling their stories of faith, hope, peace, and divine intervention, and how their spirituality allowed them to feel placidity in their lives.
Speakers also shared their prayers for the mental health community; prayers for those being discriminated against simply because their mental health experiences are hard for others to understand. Prayers for healing, comfort, compassion, and joy for those who’ve felt lost on their journey of discovery and rehabilitation. Prayers for the community to come together with a common goal of love and support, rather than discrimination and judgement—because if we all open our hearts to love a little more, maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to judge a little less.
Prayer of Healing for Mental Wellness
by: Rabi Elliot
(read at Mental Health Day of Prayer 2015)
May the one who blessed our ancestors
bless all those living with mental illness--
Their caregivers, families, and friends.
May they walk in the footsteps of Jacob,
King Saul, Mariam, Hannah and Naomi
who struggled with dark woes helplessness, isolation and terrors
but survived and led our people
Just as our father Jacob spent the night wrestling with an angel and prevailed,
may all those who live with mental illness be granted endurance
to wrestle with their pain and prevail upon the night.
Grace them with faith to know
that though, like Jacob, they may be wounded,
shaped, and renamed by the struggle,
still, they live on to continue
an ever unfolding, unpredictable path toward healing
May they not be alone on this path
but accompanied my their families, friends, caregivers, ancestors, and Divine Presence
Surround them with loving kindness, grace, and companionship,
and spread over them Sukkot Shlomecha,
a shelter of peace and wholeness.
And let us all say, “Amen.”