PTSD

Project HELP

Through an initiative called Project HELP, WMU identifies a social and moral issue and ties in national projects that help lead the church to address it.

Since the launch of Project HELP in 1994-1995, WMU has focused on a variety of universal problems over the years ranging from hunger and poverty to HIV/AIDS and racial injustice. With each issue, we seek to raise the level of awareness and provide practical approaches anyone can implement to open the door for meeting needs and sharing the gospel.


2014 - 2018
Project HELP: PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone—veterans, first responders, victims of violence, natural disaster survivors, and others. 

One of the most healing resources for someone who suffers from PTSD is community, and being in community is one of the core functions of the body of Christ. Discover how you and your church can walk alongside them.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosable mental disorder as classified by the DSM-V.  Some key facts about PTSD include the following:

PTSD Awareness Month

Focus on the military

With the Memorial Day holiday, I am aware that this is a difficult day for those who have lost a loved one in the service of our country. For many people the Memorial Day holiday kicks off the summer as they celebrate with barbeque and corn-on-the-cob. But for those who have lost a loved one, it is a bittersweet day to remember and honor their loved one. Let us remember those who have given their lives, and also honor their families and the veterans who have served our country, too.

As June begins this week, our nation also observes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. PTSD is the critical issue that is WMU’s focus for Project HELP. During this week as we think of those who have served in the military of our country, there are several things you can do to become more aware of this issue.

Ministering to Military Families

Project HELP logo

You may be near a military base with many military personnel, have one military family in your church, or have a family with a member in the National Guard or Reserves. As a preschool leader in the church, this is an opportunity for you to serve these families in a special way. As they entrust their preschooler to you while at church, this may open doors for you to reach out to military families. There are also opportunities to minister to military families outside the church.

 

Each military family has its own strengths and needs. Use these ideas as possibilities for ministry to the needs of military families. Realize that these are ideas for ministry to any military family, not just to those with a family member who has PTSD. Following are ways to give care and support to all military families.

  • Commit to pray daily for the families. Send a note or message to let them know, so they can draw strength from knowing of your prayers.

  • For multiple families, set up a prayer plan among preschool teachers at church.

  • Listen with a heart of compassion.

  • Make care packages for families.

The Art of Suffering

Suffering—is it a topic any of us are really comfortable with? I personally don’t like to think about it.

Jesus talked a lot about suffering and in Philippians 3:10, I am reminded “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His sufferings” (ESV). Really? Participate in suffering? Yet in this verse, suffering speaks to me as an avenue to know Christ better and refine me to be more like Him.

We all experience suffering in varying degrees at one time or another. David Crosby reminds us in his book Your Pain Is Changing You that we can choose how we respond to it. 

On a personal level, my most challenging experience with pain and suffering was my diagnosis and battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It took 6 months to diagnose and a lot of physical pain was experienced. Through God’s grace, I am now in remission.  However, the spiritual battle to stay focused on Christ and relinquish my will to His during the adversity was equally challenging.

Networking Works

“My nephew has threatened suicide several times since returning from Afghanistan,” she said. “He seems so close to doing it. We’re constantly worried about him.” A total stranger from another town was telling me this when we were both getting our nails done. “I just wish I knew how to get him some help.”

Thanks to a group of churches (pastors and members), along with other interested community organizations in her town, I could direct her to a local pastor who was passionate about helping soldiers coming home with PTSD and suicide ideation. All over Arkansas communities and churches are coming together to be ready when the need arises.

In our state the local VA assists in forming these groups, but realistically, they can form without VA assistance. Representatives from churches, directors of non-profits, members of law enforcement, local business owners, and other interested parties meet monthly and discuss issues affecting returning veterans. They gather resources and put together guides to those resources.

Project HELP: PTSD Helping Families with Financial Stress

Financial difficulties

Though the song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for many families the Christmas season is the most stressful time of the year. This can be a particularly difficult time for parents who are under financial stress, as they struggle to provide for their family. The pressures of providing Christmas gifts for their children is great.

Financial stress for families can be caused by the loss of a job, an ongoing illness or hospitalization, divorce, or the death of a family member. Some families are in financial stress because of spending practices, credit card debt, or lack of budgeting. Be prepared to minister to families who are under financial stress.

  • Be sensitive to the needs of families who may be in situations of financial stress. Keep information confidential.

  • Be aware that financial stress is not just about money. Emotional and social issues may also be involved, such as pride, self-confidence, or loss of purpose.

  • Listen to the parent so you can determine opportunities in which you can be of help.

Project HELP: PTSD—Helping Preschoolers with Family Trauma

Hurting family

Little 3-year-old David took my hand as we looked out the window, watching and listening as an ambulance drove by the day-care center. He said in a quiet voice, just so I alone could hear, “I rode in that ambulance.” I had to choke back my own tears because I knew he remembered a terrible, violent incident that happened to him a few months before. That summer, he would wear a shirt when our child-care class played outside in the sprinkler because he did not want the other preschoolers to see the scars on his belly from stab wounds that almost killed him.

Project HELP: PTSD—How to Use with Preschoolers

Project HELP logo

As WMU focuses on Project HELP: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), all ages in the church are encouraged to be involved in this critical issue. You may be wondering, How can I focus on this critical issue with preschoolers?

Following are recommendations about using Project HELP: PTSD with preschoolers.

Hints for Preschool Teachers

Project HELP - Addressing PTSD with Children

Every two years, WMU prayerfully chooses a Project HELP emphasis. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is the Project HELP emphasis for 2016-2017. WMU encourages members at all ages to minister in some way to those suffering with PTSD.

The preceding paragraph is included in each Children in Action Leader, GA Leader, and RA Leader magazine. But, what does it mean? What in the world are you supposed to do as a leader? How do you help children understand PTSD?

Here's an overall tip to keep in mind: The children in your missions education group need your love, support, and understanding. People in their families, neighborhoods, or schools may be struggling with PTSD. It could be that some of the children in your missions education group are struggling with PTSD themselves. While missions leaders, church staff members, and parents can play a key role in helping someone with PTSD, it's best to know your limits. Trained therapists are the best people to call upon to help when it is believed that someone is struggling with PTSD.

So, what's a missions leader to do? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

About Writing Always Remember to Pray

First illustration in progress!

Join us for an interview with Robin McCall, author of Always Remember to Pray:

Why did you want to write a book about prayer for preschoolers?

In preparation for WMU’s Project Help PTSD, I studied factors that help preschoolers build coping skills and resilience. In researching these factors, I kept coming back to prayer as a major influence in helping all of us—adults, as well as preschoolers—to cope with stress and fear. As we learn to pray without ceasing, we develop faith that God truly is with us in every situation. This realization of His ever-present help is vital to the spiritual formation of preschoolers and children. I wanted to create a book that would open opportunities for grown-ups to help little ones talk about prayer.

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