Mind Body Spirit – June 2018


Mind, Body, Spirit: Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness

The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter

June 2018, Volume 3, Issue 5

Update: The UCC.org website has been redesigned.
The Faith Community Nurses web pages are at UCC.org/nurses.


01-Thinker.pngAddressing Social Isolation and Loneliness – A Serious Health Issue

  • Since 1990, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded studies of the effect of religious involvement and spirituality on overall health. These have shown that religious affiliation is a positive factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.   Whether it occurs because religions promote care of the body or is due to other reasons has been debated.
  • Subsequent research identified benefits gaind from attending formal religious services and/or from participation in other church group activities. Being with others in a common provides opportunities for social support, a protective factor that provides higher levels of health and well-being and decreases the risk of illness and death. (Levin, J., 2001. God, Faith and Health: Exploring the Spirituality-Healing Connection. NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). 
  • In 2010 the results of a survey conducted for a consortium of AARP and its partners indicated that loneliness, as well as actual or perceived social isolation are associated with an increased risk for early mortality and may be a greater health risk than obesity and as destructive as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness Among Older Adults: A National Survey of Adults 45+.  (An overview of the findings, the full report, and a one-page info-fact sheet are available on this site.)   Subsequently a mega-analysis of research with more than 3.7 million individuals ages 45 and older found that greater social connection is associated with 50% reduced risk of early death.  More information may be found in these reports Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality and So Lonely I Could Die  (APA presentation August 2017)
  • In early 2018, Cigna was concerned about loneliness not just as a societal problem but also as a health matter, sponsored a study of 20,000 Americans from Feb. 21st – Mar. 6th. Data was collected using the Cigna Loneliness Index that was developed from the UCLA’s Loneliness Scale. The higher the higher the score achieved the greater the indication of loneliness. The findings reported by the 20,000 Americans have implications for our practice:
    • 46% reported sometimes or always feeling alone and 47% feel left out.
    • 43% feel their relationships are not meaningful and that they are isolated from others
    • Only 53% have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis.
    • Adults ages 18-22 are the loneliest generation and claim to be in worse health than older generations
    • 40%of adults over age 65 reported being occasionally lonely
    • Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness.
    • Getting the right balance of sleep, work, socializing with others and “me time” is connected to lower loneliness scores.
  • A useful self-assessment tool. Want to evaluate your social isolation risk or perhaps offer the tool to others? A simple tool to evaluate an individual’s isolation risk, as well as other resources are available at Connect2Affect

What can we do?  Loneliness and perceived or actual social isolation has become a public health issue at the epidemic level among Americans and it is having a negative effect on our health. 

  • How does your church encourage fellowship?
  • What activities are offered that interest different age groups?
  • Are people able to get to church activities? Are rides organized between individuals or provided by other means?  What public transportation services are available?
  • Can an individual with mobility difficulties safely enter and navigate the building? If individuals have hearing or vision difficulties are there ways they are discreetly accommodated?  

Resources are available at UCC Disabilities Ministries

Additional suggestions are provided in Combatting the Epidemic of Loneliness in Seniors

What has your faith community done to address the isolation and loneliness of adults within your congregation?  

Please share your ideas with peggymatteson@cox.net


A gentle reminder that we are not asked to solve all the problems of the world, we are just to continue to do our part:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. 

Do justly now.  Love mercy now.  Walk humbly.

You are not obligated to complete the work,

but neither are you free to abandon it.

The Talmud


Important Update on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why

  • In March 2017 a television series 13 Reasons Why was released on Netflicks. The program was based on a novel that documents events leading to the suicide of a fictional female teen.  Health care professions expressed concern that the idealization of suicide might increase thoughts of self-harm among vulnerable viewers.  The findings of two studies indicate this might have happened.  After the show’s release there was a 19% rise in Google searches using the phrases “how to commit suicide”, “commit suicide” and “how to kill yourself”.   The increase in online searches for ways to commit suicide and the strong possibility of contagion in suicidal thinking is impossible to ignore.

Netflix is now showing 13 Reasons Why Season 2.   Because of concerns voiced about Season 1 this season at the beginning of the first show the cast members came out of character and talked about depression, suicidal thinking and how to get help.  All adults interacting with teens, particularly vulnerable teens should be aware of the availability of Season 2 and the impact it may have on suicidal thinking and behavior.   More information and some resources are available at https://13reasonswhy.info

In the U.S. 1 person dies from suicide every 13 minutes. There are more than 25 attempted suicides for each suicide death.  Before the release of 13 Reasons Why Season 1 more than 17% of high school students had seriously considered suicide, more than 13% had made a suicide plan, and more than 8% had attempted suicide.   Those numbers have now increased so we must provide information and open lines of communications.  Suicide prevention information is available at SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Responding to the difficult question.

  • A ministry with people who are often experiencing heartbreak, grief, fear of the future, etc. often leads them to question, “Is there really a God”? In the UCC Daily Devotional of May 19th  Marchae Grair explores a possible answer to the age old question, Does God Exist?

Preparation for Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters

  • The natural disasters that we experience in various parts of our country vary but all require the same general type of preparation. The site  Plan ahead for disasters provides the variety of information we need to be ready.  Information on some of the specific events are: hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, and volcanoes.  In addition the site provides a video: Six Things to Know Before a Disaster

Thank you to Deborah Ringen MSN, RN-BC, Faith Community Nurse at the Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, CT for providing this link.

02-Baby.pngInfant and Toddler Nutrition

  • A new CDC website Infant and Toddler Nutrition brings together existing information and strategies on developing healthy eating patterns for babies and toddles, from birth to 24 months of age. 


Continuing Education

On-line Free Continuing Education credits

The CDC is now offering free continuing education from MMWR and MedscapeOne of particular interest to us for health education is the new Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults 19 years and older available at https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/894540


Insurance Board Webinars are Free

            Register at https://www.insuranceboard.org/online-learning/ 

  • August 8th, 2:00 (EDT) – Unique Risks – Preventing Sexual Abuse in the School Environment
  • 12th, 2:00 (EDT) – Trending Risk Management Concerns for Churches

Webinars remain on the site after the initial date and are available for viewing.  Some of the relevant ones you may have missed:

  • Best Practices for Allowing Offenders in Your Congregation: Recommendations and Best Practices.
  • Keeping Campers Safe
  • Risk Management for Keeping Youth Safe at Camps
  • Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Harassment at Church
  • Sexual Abuse Prevention- policies and training staff
  • Know Your Score! Abuse Prevention Self-Assessment

03-ONA_Webinars.pngFrom UCC Open and Affirming Coalition

Register at  https://openandaffirming.org/ona-webinars/

  • July 10th , 7:00 pm (EDT) Trans Family

Families with children who fall outside of the binary gender spectrum are struggling. Many of them hide, afraid that their child or their entire family will be bullied if the world finds out. Too many families find that their faith communities, extended family, or friends reject them. This webinar will offer some practices and ideas to help churches re-examine their youth ministries and policies, and expand on some methods congregations can adopt to support families while maintaining confidentiality. It will also provide information on how to support parents and help them adjust when their family dynamic changes.

  • June 26th, 7:00 pm (EDT) ONA and the BIBLE

ONA and the BIBLE helps congregations respond to the eight verses of scripture commonly used to argue that same-sex relationships are “sinful,” but also shows how the Bible can be foundational for a healthy ONA process.


  • June 18th – 21st Innovations in Faith-Based Nursing Conference, Indiana Wesleyan University – School of Nursing, Marion, IN. For more information go to Nursing Innovations
  • 7th – 9th Practice & Presence: A Gathering for Christians in Healthcare, at Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC. More information is available at Duke Divinity School.
  • 04-HMAlogo.png8th – 10th The Sacred Practice of Caring: Partnering for a Healthy, Hopeful Future. Health Ministries Asso.  Annual Conference and Meeting in Erlanger, KY (Right next to Cincinnati Airport).  Register Now.  HMA Conference Brochure


Some of these dates provide the opportunity to integrate health ministry activities with programming of other ministries. 

June 24th   Open and Affirming Sunday
Learn more and download resources                                   

June 27th    National HIV Testing Day
Religious Leaders and HIV Testing has information about how we religious leaders can lead by example to end AIDS.

Sept. 2nd     Labor Sunday
A person’s health is affected by the type and place where they work and the benefits and compensation provided. Information will be available on the UCC.org website this summer. 

QuestionMark.pngFUTURE ISSUES

Have something you want to share with your colleagues?

Are you looking for something to assist you in your ministry?

That which we share with others multiplies immeasurably. 

Contact: Peggy Matteson