Mind Body Spirit – April 2019


Mind, Body, Spirit: Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness
The Wellness Ministries of the UCC Newsletter
(formerly The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter)

April 2019, Volume 4, Issue 3

APRIL 2019

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” William Shakespeare

April surrounds us with its beauty, renewal, and rebirth: a cardinal carrying strands of pine straw for a new nest in a shrub’s deep center; peony and asparagus stalks rising toward the sun; lilac and azalea buds pushing out at the ends of branches; local baseball and softball teams and the “ping” of a metal bat cracking in the air; a fresh garden plot tilled and readied for this year’s plantings; the welcomed births of lambs, kittens, puppies, piglets, calves, and the young of many species; longer days and walks along creeks, forest trails, and open meadows.  You are invited to venture out and see where April is astounding you with its glorious signs of spring.  


01_MentalHealth1stAid.pngMental Health:

The National Council for Behavioral Health has issued an action alert asking members of Congress to sign a Dear Colleague letter in support of increased funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant in FY20. The block grant is the largest funding stream going to states for substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery systems.

The Council also notes that bipartisan legislation has been introduced to increase access to mental health care. Two bills are currently in process:

  1. The Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 286/H.R. 945) would allow marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and licensed mental health counselors to directly bill Medicare for their services. This simple change would immediately increase patients’ access to needed mental health care.  You are urged to contact your legislators to cosponsor the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 286/H.R. 945).
  2. The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767), a bill to extend and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration, has been reintroduced in the House and Senate.




April is World Autism Month and April 2nd is the twelfth annual World Autism Awareness Day. You are invited to join the pledge to go blue to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism by wearing something blue on April 2 in support of understanding and acceptance for people with autism.  On April 2nd, many landmarks around the globe will light up blue! You can purchase a special Autism Speaks Blue LED Colored Light Bulb at stores and join in the event by lighting your home or business BLUE!  A portion of the proceeds on bulbs benefits Autism Speaks.     


02_NatlYouthHIVAwarenessDay.jpgNational Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD):

April 10th is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD). NYHAAD is the first annual observance day set aside to recognize the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on young people.  In the United States, 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses were in young people aged 13-24 years.  Despite the disproportionate number of new HIV infections occurring among youth, the percentage tested for HIV is low compared to other age groups. Only 10% of U.S. high school students have ever been tested for HIV.  Infographics and other Resources can be found at this link:  


National Healthcare Decisions Day:

April 16, 2019. :   The purpose of this day is to inspire, educate, and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.   The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.  Its pamphlet can be downloaded at this link:


Multiple Starter Kits are available to download and print for free.   Starter kits are available in 14 different languages as well as an audio version in English. 


National Infant Immunization Week 2019 is April 27-May 4, 2019.

This annual observance is meant to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/index.html

Educational materials including videos, infographics, fact sheets and booklets are available: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/partners/childhood/multimedia.html

Immunization Schedules can be downloaded:

03_Pills.jpgNational Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 27th

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.  The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.  https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/content/national-take-back-day

The intent is to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs. Click on this link to locate a site near you: https://takebackday.dea.gov/    


04_EarthDayApr22.jpgEarth Day – April 22nd   This year’s focus: Protect Our Species.  Activities are designed to:

  • Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
  • Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
  • Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
  • Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant-based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.

Multiple Toolkits available: https://www.earthday.org/earthdayinabox/


Westberg Symposium: April 8-10, 2019 in Memphis, TN.  Theme: In These Times: Serving Through Adversity

UCC Insurance board:  Check the website for upcoming and previous webinars. One of the previous webinars, Risk Management for Keeping Youth Safe at Camp, is timely with Youth Camps beginning as we move into the season of summer.



UCC Earth Sunday:  April 28, 2019    http://www.ucc.org/earth_day_sunday_2019_20190428  

Earth Day Sunday and Easter fall on the same day this year, so faith communities are encouraged to celebrate Earth Day when it makes sense for the individual community. 

The UCC Environmental Justice Ministry joined with the ecumenical Creation Justice Ministries to author and produce reflective materials on generational justice for this Earth Sunday. The 2019 theme is “Next Generation Rising” and focuses on children and youth leading the way for creation justice.    Download a copy of this resource today.

May 2019: 

Mental Health Sunday:  The United Church of Christ Mental Health Network invites you to highlight mental health on the third Sunday in May or any Sunday that suits your schedule.  Worship resources and inserts are available http://www.ucc.org/mental_health_sunday_2017  The UCC Mental Health Network Congregational Toolkits are also available:


This may be a time for your health and wellness ministries committee to explore the process to be designated by the UCC Mental Health Network as a WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged) Congregation for Mental Health.  The pdf explaining the 10 steps to becoming a WISE congregation can be downloaded from this link:  http://moredomainsforless.com/mhnucc/becomingaWISEcongregationformentalhealth2019ed.pdf


Registration is open.  https://www.synod2019.org/en/uccsynod2019


Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond, winner of numerous awards for his book which chronicles the lives of several families in the poorest neighborhoods in Milwaukee, will be the keynote speaker at the United Church of Christ General Synod 32 in June. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, a New York Times Bestseller, will also be the subject of the denomination’s 2019 All Church Read.

A Faith-Based Reading Group Guide is available for groups using this book as a Book Club selection:   


Keep Connected:      

Previous issues of the newsletter:  Use previous year’s monthly newsletters to aid your search for links to resources on health ministries and wellness topics: http://www.ucc.org/ucc_faith_community_nurse_network_newsletter

Contact us: Have something you want to share with your colleagues? Are you looking for something to assist you in your ministry?  Interested in joining the Leadership Team for the Wellness Ministries of the UCC?  Let us hear from you.

Alyson Breisch and/or Deb Stankiewicz