The group’s mission statement reads:
First Congregational UCC, open and affirming to all, offers inclusion, support, and encouragement to people with mental illnesses/brain disorders and their families. Our mission provides and promotes understanding and compassion, and reducing stigma, though education, support activities, and groups for individuals and families affected by mental illness, as well as through advocacy for legislative support and collaboration with other mental health organizations.
The Mental Health work group has been educating both the congregation and the community by sponsoring First Congregational’s Adult Forum and Fellowship Supper and by making regular contributions to the church website, library, and newsletter.
Additionally, the team has forged a partnership with the local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), whose Bridges of Hope program provides a framework for congregations to help members in need. On January 30, 2016, First Congregational became a Bridges of Hope member church.
The church has also been designated a WISE (welcoming, inclusive, supportive, and engaged) congregation for mental health by the United Church of Christ. In September of 2017, First Congregational was honored to receive the Bob and Joyce Dell award from UCC national recognizing our commitment to supporting those challenged by mental illness.
Moving ahead, the group plans to bring its message to the broader community. Says team member Nancy Keswani, “We need to break the silence surrounding mental illness and lift the stigma, so that anyone facing a mental-health challenge can feel comfortable seeking help.”