Helping Break the Stigma of Behavioral Health Challenges

By: Greg Alexander,
FIRST CHURCH OF CRYSTAL LAKE

Just before COVID-19 became a thing, a group of individuals met to launch the Interfaith Mental Health Coalition (IMHC) of McHenry County. They proposed the following mission statement: to encourage, educate, and enrich faith groups throughout McHenry County to cultivate welcoming, supporting, and healing communities around behavioral health and well-being. Initial plans for events and training were modified to comply with CDC guidelines and state mandates. During this difficult time, we have participated in on-line QPR (question, persuade, refer) and ACE (adverse child experiences) trainings. 

An exciting opportunity emerged in 2020 as an outcome of this fledgling initiative: a partnership between First Church of Crystal Lake (a United Methodist Congregation) with the Association for Individual Development (AID). AID has the following mission statement: to empower people with physical, developmental, intellectual and mental health challenges to enjoy lives of dignity and purpose.  

The demand for mental health services has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, AID had been partnering with faith groups throughout the area to increase access to mental health services. Congregations opened their doors to provide space for individual counseling sessions. In some cases, this helped clients overcome transportation challenges that would have otherwise prevented them from obtaining these services. AID has provided licensed counselors to meet clients at various houses of worship, ensuring physical safety and confidentiality. At First Church, counselors have met clients one to two afternoons per week, depending on demand. 

The founders of the IMHC of McHenry County are seeking interested individuals from all faith traditions in McHenry County to work together to achieve the IMHC mission. If you have interest in participating or in exploring a partnership with AID, contact:  Danielle D. La Ha, MA/LCPC, 847-931-2350   


Interfaith Mental Health Coalition (IMHC)

Contacts

Greg Alexander: gca@ameritech.net   Phone: 847-450-4620

Suzanne ‘Sam’ Martinez: Suzanne.martinez2@aah.org

Calendar of events can be found at  http://interfaithmhc.org