Tuesday, June 28, 2022
GARRISON, NY – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America announces Peace of Mind, a groundbreaking program for increasing mental health literacy and reducing mental health stigma within the Orthodox Christian Church. Peace of Mind was approved by the Assembly of Bishops’ Executive Committee in January of 2022 in direct response to findings from the 2021 Mental Health Needs Assessment. This composite program, designed by the Assembly's Task Force on Mental Health, will equip clergy and ministry leaders in Mental Health First Aid™ through the lens of Orthodox Christian pastoral care. By bringing together a research-based mental health crisis intervention course and a theologically-grounded pastoral care presentation, Peace of Mind demonstrates how caring for those with mental health needs is an opportunity to be the Good Samaritan in the world.
Fourteen uniquely qualified Orthodox Christian individuals were selected from across the United States to serve as Facilitators. (Psychiatrist, Dr Djordje Koldzic, a parishioner of St. Sava Cathedral of Boston, participated with the blessings of His Grace Bishop Irinej on behalf of the Diocese of Eastern America.) The four-day Facilitator training intensive was held at Saint Basil Academy from June 21-24, 2022. Cohort members successfully met the requirements to become Certified Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructors (via the National Council for Mental Wellbeing) as part of their role of as Peace of Mind Facilitators. The resounding feedback from Facilitators-in-training, trainers, coordinators, as well as the Executive Director of Saint Basil Academy, Fr. Costas Sitaras, reflected that Peace of Mind is the fulfillment of a shared vision and prayer to improve how Orthodox Christians can understand, love, and support anyone who is experiencing a mental health concern.
Peace of Mind will be available to clergy and employed ministry leaders (pastoral assistances, youth directors, etc.) in the form of one- or two-day event packages through the Assembly of Bishops as early as September 2022. With an event-planning timeline of approximately two months and a maximum capacity of 30 participants, churches are encouraged to group together by geographic location and submit an event request as early as July 2022. More information on Peace of Mind, including a checklist of how to host an event in your parish or area, can be found online at: www.assemblyofbishops.org/peaceofmind.