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posted: 3/25/2014 5:02 PM

DuPage UU Church Service Focuses on Mental Illness

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  • Photo by Andrew Mason (London UK) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/legalcode

      Photo by Andrew Mason (London UK) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/legalcode

 
Susan Birk

Mental illness, including depression and anxiety, affects about a quarter of the United States population in a given year. Of that number, about six percent have an illness that can be described as severe, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

As part of a multi-faceted initiative to create a safe harbor of support, spiritual sustenance and community for the many individuals and families dealing with mental illness in DuPage and surrounding counties DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church, 1828 Old Naperville Rd., Naperville, will hold a service, "The Unbroken Circle," on Sunday, March 30, at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m.

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Members and visitors will hear from congregation members about their personal experience with mental illness and about their struggles to support loved ones during a mental health crisis. The service will explore how to keep "the circle of community" unbroken for family and friends as they confront mental health problems.

The congregation's volunteer Pastoral Ministry Associates and Companioners organized the service with leadership from Robert Skrocki, a licensed clinical social worker and immediate past president of DuPage UU Church.

Skrocki is chair of the Interfaith Mental Health Coalition, a suburban collar county organization working to connect faith leaders to mental health resources. He chairs Pathways to Promise, a national organization that promotes mental health training coalitions for faith communities, and is a lay community minister for the Unitarian Universalist Association and a faith community consultant at the Samaritan Center for Congregations in Naperville. Before retiring recently, Skrocki held numerous positions with the DuPage County Health Department, Mental Health Services, and several other organizations throughout the Chicago area.

The March 30 service is one aspect of DuPage UU Church's ongoing focus on mental illness awareness and support for members and the community at large. Other programs include:

• Mental Health First Aid Training/Certification, a two-session, eight-hour national training program that helps individuals identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness or substance abuse. More than 26 congregation members participated in the March training session.

• A non-denominational Grief and Loss Support Group

• A QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide awareness and prevention forum, held earlier this year.

• Companioning: volunteer training in providing empathy, support, and companionship to individuals who are isolated because of mental or emotional distress.

For more information about these programs and dates for future training sessions, please contact Robert Skrocki at bpskrocki@comcast.net or 630.802.0769.

DuPage UU Church, located at 1828 Old Naperville Road in Naperville, is a growing congregation of more than 300 members who honor many belief systems and are united by shared values of justice, freedom of thought, and peace between all. In 2013, DuPage UU Church was awarded the Earth Flag for environmental sustainability from DuPage County and SCARCE (School & Community Assistance with Recycling & Composting Education). For more information, please visit www.dupageuuchurch.com or contact the church office at 630-505-9408.

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