Connecting Faith and Mental Health
Individually, faith and medicine are powerful tools for health. But they become even more potent when they are combined, which is why participants at Baptist Health’s Faith and Mental Health Conference are feeling energized about their own — and Northeast Florida’s — ability to address mental health.
The free event, held last September at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s North Campus, attracted religious leaders, physicians, mental health advocates and members of the general public. The impressive community response surprised one of the event’s speakers, the Rev. Nicholas Louh of St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church.
“Mental health is not something people — even pastors — want to talk about,” Father Louh says. “So, I’m very proud I was able to participate and foster conversation between religious leaders and medical professionals about mental health. We can’t always pray our way out of trouble, and God gave us beautiful minds for a reason. We can use science and medicine to help, too.”
For Leroy Winfield, MD, a retired trauma surgeon who now leads the health ministry of First Church Hopewell in Jacksonville, the event was a powerful reminder of something he’s always believed. “A good physical result and a strong spiritual result go hand in hand,” he says. First Church Hopewell is one of Baptist Health’s 44 faith-based partners.
The Rev. Louh and Dr. Winfield are bringing their passion for this topic back to their constituents. The Rev. Louh has a series of sermons on depression and anxiety, and his church provides congregants with a listing of mental health professionals who provide services at reduced cost to low-income patients. Dr. Winfield’s health ministry already has a full-time social worker, but he is adding a session about depression to the ministry’s annual men’s health seminar.
“Baptist Health needs to be commended,” Dr. Winfield says. “We need more conversation between faith leaders and medical professionals, and I feel like this year’s event opened a door that had been closed.” A second conference is planned for September 12, 2015. Click here (https://fmhconference.eventbrite.com) to register.