On Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, Feb. 22 the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness presented the conference, Moral Injury–Moral Stress: Searching for Meaning Amidst Suffering, keynoted by Dr. Carrie Doehring with three break out session facilitators, Kristen Erner, Pedro Silva and Bill Forbes. The event was well attended and represented many faith communities in Boulder County.
For those who are unfamiliar with the terms moral injury and moral stress, the following description from the INMI website offers some perspective:
Unlike post-traumatic stress, which is rooted in the fear of life threats, moral injuries and stress arise from shame, guilt and betrayal of not practicing one’s core values. This cuts people off from social support and makes them question the value of their life which can lead to hopelessness and suicidal ideation.
During the program, strategies were explored to help people manage these stresses and injuries and to contextualize feelings of guilt and shame appropriately so that they are not expressed as so debilitating. Spiritual practices were one of the main tools offered by Dr. Doehring that should be of particular interest to faith communities as they explore their relevance in the context of modern society.
One of the major takeaways that is of particular interest to faith communities was the revelation that a 2 year study among 596 medically ill elderly patients predicted that chronic struggles with their concept of God contributed to:
- Increases in depressed mood
- Declines in physical functional status and quality of life after controls
- 22-33% greater risk of mortality after controls
As a congregation seeking to reflect what we believe and experience as the radical welcome of God in community with us, it is good to know that how we are together communicates a vision of God to neighbors, both known and unknown, that can offer an opportunity to embrace a form of healing from historic injuries.
The video below is of Dr. Doehring’s keynote message and the initial responses from the breakout facilitators. The breakout sessions were not recorded.