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Beacon of Light Tyler Woodall, LPC (panel member for May 10 Mental Health Awareness Month event)

Beacon of Light invites the community to a free Mental Health Awareness Month Event “Thriving in Transition: How Healthy Families Navigate Life’s Next Season”  on May 10  

After two losses of life within the St. Andrew Methodist Church community just prior to the 2020 pandemic, church pastors and staff knew that a proactive stance regarding mental health was needed and launched Beacon of Light, a new mental health ministry, to serve not only the church community, but also North Texas residents and other churches and centers of faith. The program, launched in 2021, has provided services to 170 families struggling with a variety of mental health issues.

Beacon of Light  provides awareness for mental health, counseling services, and a variety of educational resources to support individuals including newsletters, special events, and a podcast launching in May – all of which can be found on its website.  The counseling services are provided with licensed, professional therapists on a wide variety of the most common mental health concerns and disorders. All counseling services, delivered in partnership with The Center for Integrative Counseling, are provided confidentially at Beacon of Light’s offices, located at 5700 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 1600, in Plano, directly across the street from St. Andrew Methodist. Tele-health services are also available.

“Our pilot program proved that if a church offers a mental health program, people will use it,” said Doug Reed, executive director, Beacon of Light. “On average, someone struggling with mental health issues waits 11 years to seek help. We must remove barriers to treatment, and the church – often one of the first places people turn to when in crisis – is one of the easiest places to seek help. We encourage anyone in the community struggling with mental health issues to reach out to us. Each of us deserves joy in our lives, and if your mental health makes joy seem impossible, we can help.”

Reed, a long-time St. Andrew member who has managed several behavioral health care organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, was asked to lead this new endeavor. His daughter, Natalie, then 29, died by suicide in January 2020 shortly before the pandemic.

“There are few families left untouched by mental health challenges,” said Reed.  “In our case the impact was immediate and devastating.  We thought that death by suicide happened to others, not our family.  Our vision for Beacon of Light, quite simply, is to combine the power of faith with expert clinical services to help save lives.”

During Mental Health Awareness Month, Beacon of Light invites the community to its first special event, a panel discussion, “Thriving in Transition: How Healthy Families Navigate Life’s Next Season,” on May 10, from 6:30-8 p.m., in Piro Hall, St. Andrew Methodist, 5801 W. Plano Parkway. The event, free and open to all, will feature guest speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Zak, a licensed clinical psychologist with over 25 years’ experience working with children and adults across the lifespan, as well as a panel discussion with Hannah Wilkins (college freshman); Julee Williams (parent of 4 children, ages 19 to 25); Rev. Kim Meyers, St. Andrew; and Tyler Woodall, LPC, Beacon of Light counselor. The panel will be moderated by Carrie Cravens, LCSW, clinical program manager, Beacon of Light. The discussion will focus on struggles with transition and their impact on mental health; ways to keep connection with family and friends and take care of your mental wellbeing through transition; and the role that faith can play.

“For many families, May represents a challenging time of transition – promotion from one grade to the next; transitions to new schools; and graduations from high school to college mean big changes for families,” added Reed. “Through Beacon of Light, we’ve seen the impact of these transition periods, and it is always our goal to be proactive and provide important resources so that individuals and families have the tactics and tools to manage changing and challenging times.”

Beacon of Light is also working on the development of a comprehensive mental health framework and training program for churches to become mental health informed so they may deliver effective mental health programming within their membership and communities.

“We know that churches are on the front line of the mental health crisis,” said Reed. “There are more than 380,000 churches imbedded in communities throughout the country, but most lack the knowledge, resources, and partners to address even the most basic mental health needs. What if pastoral staff and lay leaders knew how to identify and triage various mental health conditions and illnesses?  How many lives could be changed or saved? Multiple churches have already reached out to us, and our vision is to provide them with programming, training, and resources in the near future.”  

“It’s important for everyone to keep in mind that we have all faced circumstances that left us feeling paralyzed, alone, and free-falling,” added Reed. “In these times, Beacon of Light can provide guidance and help you navigate the complexities of mental health. Join us on May 10, learn more about how Beacon of Light might be able to help you and your family, and take home some helpful information to help you navigate life’s next season. At Beacon of Light it is our hope to further your mental and spiritual health to prevent mental health issues in the future.”

An RSVP is encouraged for the panel discussion but not required. Visitwww.beaconoflightmh.org for a link to RSVP. 

 

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Beacon of Light launched in 2021 as a ministry of St. Andrew Methodist Church in Plano to create a Christ-centered mental health initiative to support the St. Andrew community, those who live in North Texas and other churches and centers of faith. Born out of St. Andrew’s challenge of reacting to mental health crises among its members, Beacon of Light equips individuals and churches with valuable tools and resources to address the continuum of mental health challenges. This means increasing awareness for mental health in general; developing resources to help those in need better understand mental health conditions, treatment options and aftercare considerations; training church and lay leaders to be more informed regarding mental health issues; and providing expert clinical treatment with experienced mental health providers. Key goals include encouraging engagement, reducing the stigma around mental health while removing barriers, and creating awareness of treatment and support services. Visit https://www.beaconoflightmh.org/ , email contact@beaconoflightmh.org, or call 469-385-1828. Beacon of Light is located at 5700 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 1600, Plano, TX 75093.

St. Andrew Methodist Church began in 1986 in the spirit of its namesake, a disciple of Jesus. The life of the Apostle Andrew embodies the church's mission, which is to invite the Christian-ish and the unchurched to become passionate servants of Christ. The congregation of St. Andrew follows Jesus, lives in relationship, serves others, and takes risks in faith. Worship includes four services each weekend on a 21.2-acre campus at the corner of Plano Parkway and Mira Vista in Plano, Texas, where more than 2,000 people worship each weekend. The Sanctuary hosts worship in both a traditional style with the classic pipe organ and a contemporary style with an LED center screen and lighting technology. Small groups and Bible studies gather on campus and throughout the region every day of the week. Mission opportunities serve our local area, neighboring regions, and global communities. The church has been repeatedly selected as a "Best Place to Worship in Plano” by the readers of the Plano Star Courier. St. Andrew Methodist Church is located at 5801 W. Plano Parkway, Plano, Texas 75093. Visit www.standrewmethodist.org; call 972-380-8001.

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