Mental health awareness training helps moves the culture to one of hope

The theological virtues come from God, Bishop Carl A. Kemme said to those attending the Suspenders4Hope training on Tuesday, Aug. 22.

“These are blessings, God’s gifts to us each day – to live in the midst of the many challenges of our lives, to have faith, to have hope, and to live by love. It is the virtue of hope that is perhaps something we should all reflect upon.”

Living without hope

Bishop Kemme opened the mental health awareness training held last week in Good Shepherd Hall at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita by explaining that there are many people today who live without hope.

“That can be something for us to ponder and reflect upon in our relationships with them,” he said. “How we can inspire hope? How we can facilitate hope and encourage hope as a gift from God?”

The bishop prayed that God would bless those in attendance with hope and that many people will be assisted in some way by their participation in the training designed to increase awareness of and understanding about suicide prevention.

“May God bless us all with that renewed gift of hope: hope for a better today, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better forever, which is God’s special gift of hope. And may that hope then flood the hearts of those who feel hopeless, who feel as though there’s no reason to live. And may our friendship with them our support of them, encourage them to gain and regain and reclaim that precious gift, that precious virtue of hope.”

Provines led the training

Jessica Provines, the assistant vice president for Wellness and chief psychologist at WSU, led the training. Fr. Andrew Meng, a parochial vicar, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, talked about how he overcame some of the mental health challenges he had as a young adult.

Fr. Andrew Meng shared some of the struggles he had as a young man at the training.

Provines said last month that she believes it’s critical that public, private, and nonprofits unite to help address the mental health of our community, to help reduce despair, and to bring hope to people in times of despair.

While talking about her background and her faith, she said the Prayer of St. Francis, which includes phrases regarding helping those who are sad or in despair, has been a mantra for her for the past 10 years.

End the silence

After sharing other stories about those who struggle with despair, she said, “That’s what today is all about. It’s about ending a culture of silence so that we can move towards a culture of shared vulnerability, caring, and most importantly support where we support each other.”

Provines said we have an overwhelmed population and an overwhelmed mental health system.

“So it’s really going to take all of us to really be started addressing this and so that is why we have a training like this today. Because this is when we need each other the most.”

About 115 attended the two-and-a-half-hour training sponsored by Wichita State University, the Catholic Assembly for Business, Ascension Via Christi, and the Diocese of Wichita.