Monday, March 24, 2008

UU Local TV show sheds light on mental illness

UU minister conducts mental health ministry via public access TV.
By Jane Greer 3.10.08

Kathryn Lum was describing what it was like as a person with mental illness to first feel the positive affects of medication. “I remember for the first time lying in bed feeling like I had just been thrown up on the shore,” she told the cameras. “I had been shipwrecked and the waves had been crashing over me and I had been struggling to keep afloat. Then I found myself on the beach and resting. Feeling peace for the first time.”

Lum, who has schizoaffective disorder, was a guest on a new public access cable TV program called “Mental Health Matters—Alameda County,” which debuted last fall. The show is trying to counter the stigma and prejudice often attached to mental illness by talking with people who actually suffer from various conditions as well as with family and loved ones who live with them.
The monthly TV show is the brainchild of the Rev. Barbara Meyers, a UU community minister associated with Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, Calif. As a community minister, Meyers’ work takes her outside the church and into the community. Her own particular ministry centers on mental health issues. “With as many as 20 percent of the populace living with a mental health problem at any one time, there is a lot of needless suffering that could be alleviated with more information and understanding,” she wrote in a press release for the show.

The series of 30-minute programs is broadcast on Comcast public access channels in Alameda County, Calif. The first show focused on the stigma frequently attached to mental illness. Succeeding programs have been devoted to suicide, schizophrenia, recovery, bipolar disorder, and African American mental health. Each show concludes with a list of resources for people interested in finding out more.

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