Greensboro College Will Host Summit April 16 on Behavioral Health and Faith Communities

Kevin Hines, suicide-prevention activist and author.
"GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro College will host a day-long regional summit April 16 on ways in which faith communities and behavioral-health systems can better collaborate.

"We are a college of the United Methodist Church, and both our church and the college's own history of service call on us to serve our community," said college President Lawrence D. Czarda, Ph.D. "Greensboro College exists at the intersection of faith and reason, so there is no better place for a gathering on such an important topic as this."

The keynote speaker will be Kevin Hines, a suicide-prevention activist and author. Hines, who survived a jump from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge when he was 19, has been honored by the Marines and the Veterans Administration for his work with veterans.

Also speaking will be former U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, who was wounded in the 2011 attempt on the life of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and later succeeded her, and Dr. Kyle Horton, a physician who treats veterans and worked for the recent passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.

Breakout sessions, featuring top names from the behavioral-health and faith communities, will focus on such topics as:

  • tending to the needs of pastors who must counsel parishioners.
  • religious counseling as complement to psychiatry and psychotherapy.
  • changing roles of hospital and prison chaplains.
  • immigrants' mental health needs.
  • the elderly, mental health, the faith community, and caregiving.
  • how faith communities can best serve veterans.

Registration is $10 but is free for students with .edu email accounts. Continuing-education units will be available for professionals in social work and counseling.

Event sponsors and exhibitors in addition to the college include the N.C. Medical Society; the Guilford County and N.C. chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; the Cone Health Foundation;the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's departments of social work and counseling education; Monarch Behavioral Services; Therapeutic Alternatives; the Sandhills Center; The Social and Emotional Learning Group, PLLC; Mount Zion Baptist Church; Temple Emanuel; and a host of private contributors.

The event is being coordinated in collaboration with Greensboro College leadership by two of the college's visiting faculty members: Robert Wineburg, 2014-2015 Visiting Scholar of Religion and Community Service, and the Rev. Odell Cleveland, Adjunct Professor of Religion and Community Ministry.

Wineburg and Cleveland are at Greensboro College during 2014-2015 to help build and consolidate the college's service role in the context of its affiliation with the United Methodist Church.

"What Odell and I have seen is that often, a person's faith community may end up being his first responder in a behavioral-health crisis, yet so many ministers and other faith leaders simply don't feel prepared to respond appropriately," Wineburg said.

"The system is such that even if they knew they had to refer someone out, they would not know where to start. The summit is not just about education - it is to connect people who ought to connect but don't know how systemically."

"This summit is being held as a response to the cries of this community and of communities across the land," Cleveland said. "We are going to help make people in these fields aware of all the good that can happen when the behavioral-health community and the faith community work together.""

- A Press Release

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