Rev. Talitha Arnold

Thursday, January 26 — Workshop B, 2:00 p.m. — 3:30 p.m. (in-person)

Friday, January 27 – Workshop C, 1:30p.m. – 3:00p.m. (online)

Through presentation and participant engagement, the workshop provides the Biblical basis, practical training, and current research on the church’s role in mental health, along with ways to identify and build on what your congregation already does to foster mental health and help prevent suicide.

In addition to the descriptive paragraph included in the Annual Event registration, what excites you about the workshop you’re presenting? 

The most exciting–and heartening– aspect of the workshop on “The Role of Faith Communities in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention” is that it’s included in the APCE line-up, which means faith communities are continuing to break the silence about mental health and suicide issues and affirm that we have a central role in addressing the issues and providing resources for our congregations. Studies have shown that people in crisis will more often initially seek out a faith leader (which includes Christian educators) than a therapist. This means that we need to be equipped to respond and to educate.

I’m particularly heartened that this topic is included in a conference geared toward Christian educators because you are definitely on the front line with children, youth, parents, and families–often more so than those of us who are pastors or priests. You hear their questions, know their struggles, and are trusted to respond with compassion and knowledge. I hope this workshop will be helpful to Christian educators in your ministries.

What do you hope people who attend your workshop will leave with? 

Many things . . .

  1. Examples from both Hebrew Bible and Christian Scripture of how the Bible addresses mental health issues, in particular the central role such issues were in Jesus’ ministry.
  2. Increased awareness of the central role faith communities and especially our ministries with children, youth, and families in fostering good mental health and preventing suicide.
  3. An understanding of the things your community–in education, fellowship, worship, pastoral care– is already doing that support mental health and are proven “protective factors” in suicide prevention.
  4. Ways to build on your strengths, as well as possibly expanding to include other programs to support mental health.
  5. The impact of racism, poverty, and other forms of discrimination have on mental health.
  6. The importance of advocacy, both in our churches and our wider communities.

For those who cannot attend Annual Event, how can a person learn more about your topic/workshop? What books, articles, other resources can you point people toward? 

  • The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention website: and in particular, the “Faith.Hope.Life” section with resources for faith communities. The Faith Communities Task Force of the Action Alliance is also finishing a toolkit for faith leaders who work with youth.
  • Pathways to Promise: An interfaith assistance and resource center that provides virtual and in-person support to faith, spiritual and non-spiritual communities for persons dealing with mental health challenges.
  • Healing the Healers. 3-part documentary series with faith leaders of different traditions on youth mental health and suicide prevention.
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Rev. Talitha Arnold

is Senior Minister of United Church of Santa Fe (UCC). A graduate of Yale Divinity School, she is a founding member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and co-led its Faith Communities Task Force for ten years.