mental health

Emily Smith Miller 03-24-2013
Mental health illustration, Lightspring / Shutterstock.com

Mental health illustration, Lightspring / Shutterstock.com

As a seminary graduate and a Masters of Social Work student, I have a passion for social justice and working to improve the wellbeing and health of vulnerable populations. After seminary, during my time as a youth leader, we often turned to Matthew 25:31-46, the familiar passage about “the least of these,” and discussed God’s emphasis on justice and serving the marginalized in our societies.

My time as a social work student, particularly through my current class on international social work, has expanded my concept of the “least of these.” We have learned about some of the most vulnerable populations around the world – child soldiers in Uganda and Colombia, young girls trafficked into the sex trade in Cambodia, HIV/AIDS patients from Haiti, migrants left to die in the desert while trying to cross the Mexican-U.S. border, and the list continues. These concepts were not completely unknown to me and would likely not be new to you either. This past week, however, we studied a different topic, one that has not drawn as much media attention – global mental health.

Sandi Villarreal 01-16-2013
Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during his final news conference of his first term. Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced today a comprehensive plan to address gun violence in the wake of mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo. The plan includes calling on Congress to require universal background checks, restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and 10-round limit to magazines, and implement stronger punishment for gun trafficking. The plan also includes measures aimed at increasing school safety and access to mental health services.

"This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged," Obama said, accompanied children who wrote to the White House calling for an end to gun violence. 

In the 33 days since the Sandy Hook shooting, "more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun," Obama said. "… every day we wait, that number will keep growing."

Biden, who has met with more than 200 groups representing various interests including law enforcement and people of faith, said the nation has a "moral obligation" to do everything in its power to address gun violence.

The announcement comes a day after faith leaders, including Sojourners president and CEO Jim Wallis, publicly called for many of the same measures, including reinstating the assault weapons ban, closing background check loopholes, and making gun trafficking a federal crime.

Jim Wallis 12-17-2012
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Rachel Pullen (C) kisses her son Landon DeCecco at a memorial for victims near the school. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Our deepest question now is whether what happed on Friday — and what has focused the attention of the entire nation — will touch the nation’s soul or just make headlines for a few days. 

I think that will be up to us as parents — to respond as parents. The brutal shooting of 20 six- and seven-year-old school children in their own classrooms touches all of us, and as the father of two young boys I’m especially struck how it touches parents. From the heartbreak of the parents in Newtown to the tears in the eyes of Barack Obama as he responded — not just as the President, but also as the father of two daughters — to the faces of the first responders and reporters who are parents. I have felt the pain and seen the look on the face of every parent I have talked with since this horrendous event occurred. Virtually every mother and father in America this weekend has turned their grieving gaze on their own children, realizing how easily this could have happened to them. The emotions we’ve seen from the Newtown parents whose children survived, and the feelings of utter grief for those parents whose children didn’t, have reached directly to me. 

Saturday, the day after the Connecticut massacre, Joy and I went to our son Jack’s basketball game. The kids on the court were all the same ages as the children who were killed on Friday. I kept looking at them one by one, feeling how fragile their lives are.

Our first response to what happened in Newtown must be toward our own children. To be so thankful for the gift and grace they are to us. To be ever more conscious of them and what they need from us. To just enjoy them and be reminded to slowly and attentively take the time and the space to just be with them. To honor the grief of those mothers and fathers in Connecticut who have so painfully just lost their children, we must love and attend to ours in an even deeper way.

Duane Shank 11-11-2011
A Veterans Day parade.

A Veterans Day parade.

Today’s veterans are suffering through the current recession. They have a higher unemployment rate are are more likely to be or become homeless than the rest of the U.S. population.

Thankfully, the Senate yesterday unanimously passed jobs for veterans legislation that should begin to help.

But other problems remain. As many as 25 percent have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicides are rising. Forty-six-thousdand have suffered devastating physical injuries, and as many as 360,000 may have brain injuries. 

With this set of problems, the Veterans Administration doesn’t have the necessary resources to meet the profound need.

Hannah Lythe 06-30-2011
[Editors' note: As part of Sojourners' campaign to end the war in Afghanistan, we will run a weekly Afghanistan news digest to educate our readers about the latest n
Jim Wallis 06-23-2011

Last evening, President Obama made his long-awaited announcement on beginning withdrawal of the 103,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Claire Lorentzen 06-21-2011

The Public Religion Research Institute recently released the results of their newest survey, "Committed to Availability, Conflicted About Morality," which shined new light on the complexity of opinions on abortion between different religious groups and age demographics. The study results were presented two weeks ago at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

The most intriguing age group in the study are Millenials, ages 18 to 29. In the introduction to the survey results, the authors claim that given Millenials' self-described characteristics of being "confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and open to change," they have a "peculiar profile" when it comes to their views on abortion. And this is especially "peculiar" when viewed alongside their strong support for gender equality and rights for gay and lesbian people. Millenials' complex, label-defying views of abortion make them "conflicted about morality," the report states. But are Millenials really, actually conflicted about morality?

Kathy Khang 05-19-2011

Today is my one-year anniversary on vitamin L, and it's finally time to talk about.

I struggle with anxiety and clinical depression, and I take vitamin L -- or Lexapro to be exact -- to treat it. It's been one year since I decided enough was enough. I was tired of being tired. Tired of being sad. Tired of always feeling on edge about almost anything.

Last spring I finally sought out the help I needed all along, and took some concrete steps in overcoming depression and the cultural stigma mental health issues carry within the Asian American, American, and Christian cultures. And that is where I find convergence, because May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and it is also Mental Health Awareness Month. I couldn't have orchestrated it better myself.

Hannah Lythe 04-14-2011
[Editors' note: As part of Sojourners' campaign to end the war in Afghanistan, we will run a weekly Afghanistan news digest to educate our readers about the latest new
Chuck Collins 03-28-2011
Across the United States, there is a new movement emerging to dramatize the immorality of corporate tax dodging in the face of drastic budget cuts.
Eric Stoner 03-04-2011

In December, as the United States entered the 10th year of what President Obama called the "good war" in Afghanistan, I traveled to Kabul to take stock of the human toll of the increasingly bloody occupation.

Michael Komba 11-02-2010
Since I moved into Casa Maria Catholic Worker in 1999, my work has focused around hospitality for the homeless.
Jim Wallis 09-01-2010
The emotion that grips me this morning, after watching President Obama's speech last night and listening to the commentary about the "end of our combat mission in Iraq," is a deep sadness.
Maggie Goddard 07-30-2010
"I hate civilians," Warden Clooney barked into the microphone.
Jim Wallis 07-07-2010
The captain was the first to smell it. He told us that the ocean didn't used to smell this way. Then, we all smelled it.
Emily Bagwell 06-23-2010
The other night as I rode my bike up Massachusetts Ave. with my friend Jeehye, we came upon a man who was about to jump off a bridge.
Logan Isaac 11-09-2009
Like so many across our country, I have been reeling about the news coming out of Ft. Hood, TX.
Jeffrey Buchanan 09-02-2009

This will be the first year congressional leaders and President Obama won't travel to the Gulf Coast to honor the anniversary of our nation's largest disaster.

Mary Nelson 07-27-2009
We need health-care reform to ensure that others aren't caught in the web of inconsistent mental health care and the inability to get needed medicine.

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