Becoming a WISE Congregation toolkit

UCC Mental Health Network
Becoming a W.I.S.E Congregation
(Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged for Mental Health)
Toolkit

Becoming A WISE Congregation webinar recording
"Starting a Mental Health Ministry . . . from the ground up" article from a parish nurse
10 Steps to become a WISE Congregation for Mental Health 
and One Congregation's experience using the 10 steps to becoming WISE

Welcome to this process of becoming and being a WISE Congregation for Mental Health. We assume that you are interested in how your congregation can begin or continue to be a congregation that focuses on how you can be welcoming, inclusive, supportive, and engaged with those who are affected by mental health challenges.  We are the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network who has developed this toolkit.  As a UCC non-profit organization which is in ecclesiastical covenant with the national office of the UCC, we have a very straight forward mission statement.

The United Church of Christ Mental Health Network works to reduce stigma and promote the inclusion of people with mental illnesses/brain disorders and their families in the life, leadership and work of congregations.

Our intent is to be a resource for you in the local congregation as you take these steps.  While what you have right now from us is still a work in progress, be assured that we will continue to engage with you as the new insights and practical suggestions come to our attention.  We want to hear from you so that we can pass information along to other congregations who may be dealing with similar situations.  

The chief goal with this toolkit is that your congregation will become a WISE Congregation for Mental Health.  There are no dues.  There are no other requirements other than you will send the UCC Mental Health Network a letter confirming the process by which you have voted to become a WISE Congregation for Mental Health.  You would then be among the other UCC congregations who have taken this step and therefore you will be apprised of new resources, new suggestions, and new ideas which would be shared from you to others.  

We want to underscore again that this is a process.  No congregation, we believe, will have finally accomplished all that is needed to be welcoming, inclusive, supportive and engaged with and for those who are affected by mental health challenges.  It will be an ongoing process of building on what happens and then continue with the process as the new frontiers emerge.  So, the affirmative vote could have been taken by your major committee/board as in a Church Council or Consistory or even by a vote of your whole congregation at an annual meeting.  The vote itself is your intention to enact what is needed in your congregation to become WISE about mental health.   

What we want to offer in this toolkit are several places you can start.  A “toolkit” in our understanding is a compilation of resources which you can use based on where you and your congregation are in the process.  There are print resources; there are some short videos; there are examples of what is happening in congregations (and we hope there will be many more as congregations begin this WISE process); and there is a way to email your questions as well as what you are learning as you continue or start this process.  There is a way, as well, for you to be in direct connection with those on the UCC Mental Health Network who can be “consultants” with you. So in a toolkit, there is a variety of tools (resources) that you can use depending on where you are and where you continue or start. 

Perhaps not all the resources will be applicable for your situation.  Find the ones that work for you.  We also suggest that if there are steps along the way which are suggested in the toolkit and which are not appropriate for your situation, please edit, change, add, or even delete.  We want you to find the very best way that your congregation can proceed to become a WISE Congregation for Mental Health.   

We suggest that you watch the short video from General Synod 30 in 2015 so that you realize that there are real people who are part of the UCC MHN Board of Directors. Our roots go back to 1993 when the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries initiated the Mental Illness Network.  Over time, we had a display at UCC General Synods and in 1995 the “Calling…..” Resolution was voted at synod.  There was a re-formation of the UCC Mental Illness Network in 2009 and we became the UCC Mental Health Network.  The major works have been; 

  • Developing our website (www.mhn-ucc.blogspot.com), 
  • Writing resources for Mental Health Month (May) along with other resources, 
  • Co-hosting the five national UCC Widening the Welcome: Inclusion for All Conferences with the UCC Disabilities Ministries (2010-2015), and 
  • The adoption of the WISE Resolution at General Synod 2015. 

At the encouragement of the national offices of the UCC, we have become a 501c3, non-profit organization, and are in ecclesiastical covenant with the national offices of the UCC. There is more material about the history of the UCC MHN which is available in this toolkit.

In the Toolkit:

Videos

Audio

Print Resources

Contact information for UCC MHN and UCC MHN Consultants, including the letter of your vote of becoming a WISE Congregation for Mental Health: mhnucc@gmail.com