We are delighted to announce that we received word from the Internal Revenue Service that our application for 501 (c)(3) non-profit status has been approved. This means that donations to the UU Mental Health Network are tax exempt. We will be putting a “Donate” button on our website to facilitate these interactions.
We’re happy to announce that the first Board of the UU Mental Health Network has been established. It is:
President: Barbara Meyers
Vice President: Karl Paananen
Secretary: Janet Holden
Treasurer: Carol McGough
At Large Members: Sandy Goodwick, Henry Katzman, Erin White
Thank you to all of the people for their willingness to serve in this capacity until the next election in June of 2020.
By Rev. Barbara F. Meyers
Good news! We are now incorporated in Michigan!
We have forwarded the incorporation papers and the bylaws to the UUA for our request to become an official “related organization” of the UUA.
In the incorporation papers, our member Karl Paananen is listed as the registered agent, and the address used as the registered agent’s address is the address of the UU Church of Greater Lansing where he is a member. The church is providing us with a mailbox in the church office.
Now is time to get serious about the business of the organization. The next task is to select officers as specified in our bylaws. Then, we can start having meetings and get busy with our activities. The bylaws state that the core working group that created the UU Mental Health Network will appoint the officers until we have an election in June of 2020, where all members will vote for a full slate of officers.
Here are the members of the core working group: Michelle Wagner, Rev. Katie Norris, Janet Holden, Robert Skrocki, Peggy Rahman, Carol McGough, Tim Hanami, Adam Brown, Karl Paananen, Henry Katzman, Dr. Susan Bartlett Foote, Dr. Pat Corrigan, Dr. Alice Holstein, Rev. Barbara Meyers.
The core working group can appoint people who are not members of the group as officers. This first board will serve less than a year, until June 2020. After June of 2020 when we will have an election where all members can vote on officers, the core working group will disband.
The bylaws specify the following officers of the UU Mental Health Network:
Three Directors without Portfolio
Do you have a desire to serve in any of these positions until next June to get the organization off the ground? You do not have to be a member of the core working group to be considered for these positions. If you would like to talk to me about this, let me know at com_minister @ mpuuc.org. Please let me know by August 16 if you are interested.
The following is a covenant that the early participants in the UU Mental Health Network created to govern their relationships with each other and those outside the group. The intent is to have all members of the UU Mental Health agree to abide by it. Comments and reflections are welcome
UU Mental Health Network Covenant
Keeping a covenant requires commitment, and work, and includes promise-making, promise-breaking, forgiveness and reconciliation. A covenant means walking together in this process of being human.
As leaders of the UU Mental Health Network, we covenant to:
- Offer support to each other, to the UU community, and society at large on mental health-related issues
- We will be respectful of each other and of UUs and other people who we interface with.
- If we have differing views we will seek to discuss them peacefully and respectfully keeping the goal of being helpful to and serving individuals with mental health difficulties and their loved ones in congregations and in the wider society.
- We will seek to understand problems that people in congregations are living with mental health challenges, and become a voice for them in the denomination and beyond.
- We will be attentive to mental health-related problems of people of differing ethnicities, people born in different cultures, and people with differing sexualities and gender identities.
- We will accept that each person’s experience and perception is valid.
- We will do our best to speak and write openly, honestly, and respectfully, with clarity, and tact, practicing compassion towards ourselves and others.
- We will do our best to listen carefully, with an open mind and open heart, to what others say.
- We will do our best to assume good intentions in others.
- We may talk honestly about our own mental health experience, but we won’t give other people advice on medical or alternative treatments.
- We will respect confidentiality.
- We will highlight problem areas with suggested changes for improvement and for seeking justice.
- We will look for the ethical/moral/religious aspect in the issues we are addressing, relating them to UU Principles when appropriate.
- Keep a list of resources available in our local communities and beyond
- We will give support and use our knowledge of options and resources available. To give options, we will cultivate a network of referrals to organizations.
- We will continue learning about the field of mental health, both its history and the new researches in the field.
- We will reflect on our own accomplishments
- When the covenant has been broken, that is, when one of these promises isn’t kept, we will figure out how to get back into covenant. The person who has broken the covenant will work with others in the covenanted community to determine what needs to be done in terms of forgiveness and reconciliation to get back into covenant.
By Rev. Barbara F. Meyers
The time has come to start a Unitarian Universalist Mental Health Network. In the past several months I have been independently contacted by a number of people interested in doing some form of mental health ministry in a UU context. After having conversations with these interested folks, we have collectively decided that we should band together and start an organization that will promote the inclusion of people affected by mental health issues in the life and work of our congregations, and by extension in society at large.
We have created a mission statement for our endeavor:
The UU Mental Health Network promotes inclusion of people affected by mental health issues in the life and work of our congregations and in the society at large.
We seek to do this by creating a network that is:
- a supportive community of people affected by mental health issues
- recognized as an identity group whose opinion is sought out when issues about mental health in congregations come up
- a repository of information and resources about mental health
- an advocacy organization when the rights of people with mental health issues are under attack or when discrimination and prejudice is occurring
- an organization that will advocate to improve access in the United States to adequate, appropriate and compassionate treatment.
- an advocate for needed resources that are NOT available, and to the appropriate resources intact during budget cuts
- an advocate which seeks to remove the profit motive from the healthcare industry
- an advocate for mental health consumers being fully informed and full participants in their own treatment
- a vehicle for publishing views on mental health issues from different points of view
- a way to purposefully address unique mental health issues in marginalized populations: ex: people of color, LGBTQIA, prisoners, co-occurring disorders…
- a source for providing and encouraging education about congregational mental health issues to UU congregations
- a resource for congregations when a mental health-related issue arises
- a partner with mental health networks of other faith traditions, to share ideas and work together on our common goals
We are still in formation and have not yet decided on organizational and governance issues. We welcome participation by others who are interested in helping us create this organization and get it off the ground. If you are interested, you can send an email to admin at uumentalhealth.org.
Welcome to the Unitarian Universalist Mental Health Blog!
This blog has been created to be a beacon for education about mental health in order to remove stereotypes and prejudice and promote understanding and justice within Unitarian Universalism and beyond. It is a joint project of the EqUUal Access Mental Health Caucus and the mental health community ministry of Rev. Barbara F. Meyers.
We will begin the blog with monthly posts, leaving open the option of greater frequency as time and circumstances allow.
We will seek contributions from a number of different viewpoints from people who are knowledgeable about mental health issues. A special focus will be on ethical impact of mental health issues using a UU lens. Voices from many people will be articulated, and expect that contrasting opinions will be expressed.
We will aim to speak with love, caring, honesty, authenticity, constructively, and when necessary issue a challenge, giving voice to mental health issues in society, especially in marginalized communities. A steering committee is in charge of choosing blog authors and maintaining the following editorial policy:
- We will seek different points of view, and make sure that all of the views are respectful of consumers and family members. There will be differences of opinion between groups, but they will be addressed respectfully.
- Invited blog writers will include people of different ethnicities and people born in different cultures
- Reflections on problem areas are appropriate, but not tying them to specific named people or congregations. An exception to this is elected leaders who have responsibility for mental health policies.
- We want the blog to be heard and understood by a large audience. Accordingly, editors will strive to ensure that profanity isn’t used and that slang is limited or its meaning explained, while understanding that both of these are subjective judgments.
- We will seek to highlight significant successes
- We will highlight problem areas with suggested changes for improvement and for seeking justice
- We will look for the ethical/moral/religious aspect in the story
- Here is a list of possible subjects (not exhaustive):
- Personal experiences
- Reviews of books, movies, organizations
- Charitable organizations
- Heroes / champions
- Best practices. Congregations with these practices.
- How mental health is treated in a different country / culture