By Sister Chilee Okoko, D.M.M.M.
SAN BERNARDINO—The role of the Church in ministering to those affected by mental health struggles will again take center stage at the 2019 Behavioral Health Conference on May 8.
Since 2015, the Diocesan Department of Life, Dignity and Justice has been promoting awareness, education and advocacy in the area of Behavioral and Mental Health. This has been part of a larger effort by the Diocese to promote wellness and health among communities of faith. This effort has led to collaborative relationships with the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health, Riverside County Department of Behavioral Health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and some healthcare entities like Riverside University Health Systems and Loma Linda University Health System.
The 2019 Diocesan Behavioral Health Conference will take place at the Diocesan Pastoral Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will feature two keynote addresses and four workshops. Dr. Amanda Alexander, PhD. and Very Rev. Anthony Dao, PhD. will be the keynote presenters. The topics will address several areas impacted by behavioral health including modern day changes in family dynamics, effects of social media, problems of stigma associated with mental health, and how to embrace and face life challenges without succumbing to hopelessness. In reflection of the diverse and multicultural nature of the Diocese, there will be a panel of speakers from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds to address the issue of stigma associated with mental health problems from different cultural perspectives.
This free conference is open to all and it is our hope that participants will leave the event equipped with more information and better knowledge of how to approach and handle behavioral health challenges. Attendees will also get additional information on resources available in the community to assist them when mental health needs arise.
The theme of the 2019 Behavioral Health Conference is “…finding Hope in a changing world.” We are a people of HOPE, called by Christ to live in joy, to appreciate the beauty of life and not be afraid to face the challenges of everyday life. As in the book of the prophet Isaiah 43:1 “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” God commands us not to fear or worry, but to trust in his merciful love. There is always a shining light at the end of the dark tunnel, and, behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.
Registration for the 2019 Diocesan Behavioral Health Conference is currently open to the general public at the department website, http://lifedignityandjust.wix.com/mldj. One could also call 909-475 5476 to be registered at the office.
Sister Chilee Okoko belongs to the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy and serves as Director of the Diocesan Department of Life, Dignity and Justice.