Baptist News Global will host a webinar Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. Central Time to address the mental and emotional impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The event follows recent BNG news reports about the effect the COVID-19 outbreak is having on psychological and spiritual health. Its five panelists are experts cited in some of those articles.
“We’ve noticed that every time we publish something about the mental health challenges of this peculiar time, those stories generate intense interest,” said Mark Wingfield, executive director and publisher of BNG. “Our mission is to host conversations that matter, and how to address mental health right now definitely fits that description.”
A recent BNG opinion piece by Jakob Topper demonstrated just how delicate the topic of mental health can be in the COVID-19 era. “Too many pastors are falling on their own swords” has surpassed 200,000 pageviews and left its author stunned at the responses, including stories of churches paying for pastors’ therapy.
“Others have reached out with heart-wrenching stories of their clergy and clergy spouses who did take their life both during this crisis and in previous years,” said Topper, senior pastor at NorthHaven Baptist Church in Norman, Okla. “This is not a new phenomenon, nor does it affect clergy only. Clergy, clergy spouses and clergy families are at great risk, and they always have been. It’s only worse now.”
BNG’s free, 90-minute webinar will feature five mental health professionals working on the frontlines of emotional care discussing psychological and spiritual healing in the midst not only of the pandemic, but also the added stressors of rising social and political tension.
Dallas psychologist and webinar participant Kathryn Keller told BNG earlier this summer that she and fellow therapists have been seeing fear levels rise in their clients along with the coronavirus and social unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.
The nation is experiencing “existential anxiety” from the pandemic and political and social unrest, Keller said in a story published in August. “People are just kind of shaken these days.”
And the impacts are not limited to clients, webinar participant Eric Minton, a psychotherapist in Knoxville, Tenn., shared in another BNG article.
“So rarely in my life am I having the same kind of traumatic experience, at the exact same time, as every person I’m working with,” Minton wrote. “Literally everyone has the same problem, and no one is OK.”
Grace Powell Freeman, a chaplain with Atlanta-based Wellstar Health System, told BNG the spiritual side effects of the pandemic have left few untouched in hospital settings.
“It’s not just nurses and doctors, but it’s me, my young adult children, it’s everyone. I think that’s leading to some of the mental and emotional struggles people are having of what do you do to take care of yourself in the midst of all this,” she said.
Faith certainly has a part to play in the self-care needed during the pandemic, said Brad Schwall, president and CEO of the Center for Integrative Counseling and Psychology in Dallas.
“People regularly go to the church if they’re dealing with a crisis or dilemma in life,” he told BNG previously. “The church is another connecting point with communities to help people to be healthy.”
Doyle R. Hamilton III, a pastoral counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist based in Rowell, Ga., also will participate in the discussion. His expertise includes spirituality, grief, mood disorders and pastoral psychotherapy.
Freeman brings expertise as a board-certified chaplain who provides spiritual and emotional support in hospital and emergency room settings. An ordained Baptist minister, she has extensive experience working in children’s health care settings as well as in end-of-life situations.
Keller specializes in anxiety, relationship issues and trauma and PTSD. She is a member of Wilshire Baptist Church and co-founder of the Dallas Therapy Collective.
Minton works to help clients escape cycles of conflict that contribute to emotional suffering. His specialties also include anxiety, depression and marriage and family therapy.
Schwall focuses on family life and mental health and has served in local schools and at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas. He earned a master’s degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate in pastoral psychology from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.
During the webinar, the panelists will discuss relevant trends and provide tips about how to cope with the mental health challenges of the pandemic.
Wingfield will moderate the event. “Because we have access to an array of professionals and we have a platform to reach thousands of people, our board of directors encouraged we offer this special webinar as an extension of our normal content,” he said.
Registration is free but required. Visit the event registration page for more information and to register. The webinar is Monday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m. Central Time.