BY KEVIN ROTH, FISHERS CAMPUS PASTOR
When invited by the City of Fishers in 2016 to participate in an interfaith group focused on mental health, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was aware of Mayor Fadness and the City’s work to bring awareness to the issue of mental health through StigmaFreeFishers and develop solutions that help public safety, schools, public health organizations and not-for-profits in the community work together more effectively. There was a great response from faith organizations and lots of ideas were generated.
The first positive outcome was the connection between leaders of different congregations and local not-for-profits. I had the privilege of meeting leaders from other faiths in our community including the local Sikh and Islamic congregations. Friendships formed with other Fishers' pastors. These friendships developed as this group of pastors gathered to pray and commission several church openings including our Fishers campus in December 2016.
The interfaith mental health group spurred us to discuss mental health within our individual congregations. For example, Cornerstone Lutheran hosted a Healthy Family series that focused on issues of mental and spiritual health. But we wanted to do something together. The first opportunity was a prayer gathering the City asked Grace Church to lead in August 2017 at the Nickel Plate Amphitheatre. It included a time of worship, sharing by Senior Pastor Dave Rodriguez on his own journey with depression and how he sought treatment, and a time of prayer for individuals seeking healing for themselves or others. At least 15 faith organizations were recognized for their involvement in the interfaith mental health group and 500 people attended the prayer gathering.
Conversations continued on how to work together to serve the larger community. There was a nagging sense that we could contribute more. Early in 2019, a smaller subgroup formed to help pilot an idea that became known as Fishers Cares. Fishers Cares is a collaborative effort of multiple congregations and the Fishers YMCA to provide a safe space for individuals to meet with a trained caregiver to receive support and referrals for stress, anxiety, or other mental illness. It’s not counseling but a starting point to connect adults with the care and support they need. Fishers Cares uses a simple online scheduling tool to allow an interested individual to schedule an appointment with a caregiver at a location and time convenient for them. To schedule an appointment, go to stigmafreefishers.com and locate the Fishers Cares link or go directly to the scheduling tool at fisherscares.timetap.com.
Participating organizations currently include Cornerstone Lutheran, Grace Church – Fishers, Leavener Church, Northview – Fishers, St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church, St. George Orthodox Church and the Fishers YMCA. The hope is to expand beyond this initial group to include additional congregations, not-for-profits and businesses. Flexware Innovation has also participated by providing technical consulting for the software selection and funding the costs associated with software for the first year.
My hope and prayer is that this is just the beginning of the faith community’s efforts to help heal the broken places of isolation and pain connected with mental health.