I’ve struggled with clinical depression for over 20 years. I’ve been involved in many different types of groups over the years and I have to say that none have touched me quite the way the Fresh Hope has. For me, it’s been the perfect blend of education, spiritual guidance and warm fellowship. It’s made me want to attend and give me the courage to really connect with others.” Tracy
Living Well In Spite Of A Mental Health Diagnosis | Pastor Brad Hoefs, M.Div.
About the Tenets/Principles of Fresh Hope
Fresh Hope is based upon six tenets/principles which we see as foundational for living well in spite of mental health diagnosis. These tenets/principles are for both the person who has a diagnosis (blue print) as well as for the loved ones of those who have a diagnosis (green print). The black print on each of the tenets is what we believe we share in common regarding that tenet. Each tenet is based upon a Scripture. These tenets are read at the beginning of each meeting.
We do not regard these tenets/principles as “steps”, but rather as building blocks of wellness. These tenets have not been created by a doctor or therapist, but by a peer who also has a mental health diagnosis – our founder, Brad Hoefs. Having overcome a devastating manic episode and a diagnosis of bipolar I, Brad “discovered” these faith-based principles, along with the help of his therapist and doctor, on his road to wellness. These principles work as we “work” through them. While the road to wellness is not linear and certainly has many twist and turns, we believe it quite possible to live well in spite of having a mental illness – because of the hope we have in Christ!
Fresh Hope Tenets
The tenets for those with mood disorders are in blue
and the tenets for loved ones are in green
My life is affected by a mental health issue and can become unmanageable and hopeless, especially if ignored or untreated. Therefore, I choose the help and support of others to overcome the struggles and find more joy in life.
My loved one’s mental health challenge has also left me feeling helpless and hopeless. Therefore, I choose the help of others in learning about the disorder and choosing healthy boundaries for myself.
Together, we have understanding. We remind each other of the Lord’s love, and that He alone can do all things. He is the source of our hope, and in Him we can overcome all things.
“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
My mental health challenge has also affected my relationships and the lives of those around me. Therefore, I choose to overcome for both my own good, and the good of those who love me.
I haven’t always responded to my loved one’s mental health issue in ways that were good for the relationship. Therefore, I choose to learn better ways to communicate with, support, and encourage my loved one.
Together, we commit to speaking the truth in love, healing broken relationships and viewing each other as the Lord views us.
“So let’s pursue those things which bring peace and which are good for each other.”
Romans 14:19 (God’s Word Translation, 1995)
My disorder can become an excuse. Therefore, I choose to believe I can live a full and rich life in spite of my disorder. I choose the support of people who will urge me to “push through”.
At times I don’t understand my loved one and can allow them to either wallow in their excuses, or push them too hard. Therefore I choose to learn healthy, appropriate ways to contribute to my loved one’s recovery.
Together we do better than trying on our own. We will hold one another accountable for learning, growing, and choosing to push through in hope.
“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
My disorder can lead me to feel hopeless. Therefore, I choose to believe, regardless of my feelings, that there is help and hope for my physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being.
At times I also feel hopeless, letting my loved one’s actions and recovery define my happiness. Therefore, I choose to live with healthy emotional boundaries, and I choose my own joy despite the ups and downs of my loved one.
Together we remind each other that our hope and joy come from the Lord. He alone is able to fulfill our needs in every aspect of our lives.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
While medicine is a key component in my recovery, it is not the only answer. Therefore, I choose to explore new ways of thinking and acting in my relationships and daily living.
I, too, have been part of the cycle of dysfunctional living, either thinking I had all the answers or thinking the problem didn’t belong to me. Therefore, I choose to submit myself to learning new behaviors and taking responsibility for my own healthy, balanced living.
Together we choose freedom over suffering, and joy in living through self-knowledge in action.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
At times I have allowed myself to become a victim, “defined” by my disorder. Therefore I choose to overcome and live in hope and joy, in spite of my disorder.
At times, I have viewed myself as a victim of my loved one’s behavior and disorder, living in resentment, anger, unforgiveness, or self pity. Therefore, I choose to separate the disorder from the person I love, forgive and let go of the past, and live as a contributor to successful recovery.
Together, we share in each other’s victories and celebrate the whole person.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Our purpose is to encourage one another to choose
God’s fresh hope for our daily life and future.
Who we see here remains confidential. What is said here stays here.
We don’t judge; nor do we lecture. We listen, we share and we grow.
To empower individuals to live a full and rich faith-filled life in spite of a mental health diagnosis.
The Goals of Fresh Hope (Vision)
- To equip and empower individuals (and their loved ones) who are affected by a mental health diagnosis to live a full, rich and purpose-filled life in wellness and wholeness (mental, physical and spiritual) through participation in local Fresh Hope groups which are Christ-centered peer support groups, as well as online forums, educational opportunities and faith based mental health resources.
- To provide ongoing assistance to individuals and their families during times of transition, by providing Mental Health Navigators in local communities who are certified peer support specialists and certified wellness coaches.
- To challenge the Christian church to address the mental health crisis in their community- challenging them to provide a “compassionate, understanding, safe and supportive-place” for those who struggle with mental health issues. This includes understanding that many mental health challenges are due to the brain’s improper function and are not character flaws, moral failures or a spiritual weakness.
- To advocate on both the state and national level for continued mental health reforms to repair the issues that “broken” in the system.
- To provide peer run wellness centers in the local communities as a positive place of encouragement, connection, empowerment and learning.
- To join with other organizations and voices in tearing down the thick walls of cultural stigma regarding “mental illness.”
Fresh Hope Philosophy
Fresh Hope is a peer-to-peer Christ-centered wellness approach to mental health recovery based upon six tenets that empowers people to connect both their faith and recovery principles. This approach both empowers and encouraging individuals live full and rich lives in spite of their diagnosis.
The Fresh Hope approach includes the following biases:
- Peer-to-peer support plays a very significant role in one’s successful recovery
- There is a difference between “just coping” and thriving
- When used exclusively, the medical model can lead to a “learned helplessness”
- Recovery and wellness is a “taking back” of one’s life and living it to the fullest possible.
- Peers who give back by coming along side others in recovery sometimes receive even more than they “give.”
- People who have “been there” often times understand and help more people than those who have not been “through it.”
- Faith in Christ in foundational to having hope in hopeless situations.
- The Christian church needs to be proactive and reach out with hope to the millions who are in emotional pain.
- The state and federal mental health systems cannot do “it all” there are many things they could improve upon.
- One must accept personal responsibility for his/her own recovery and wellness.
- Sometimes you have to simply “push-through” even though you feel horrible or like giving up.
- It’s self-destructive to use your mental health diagnosis as an excuse for not moving forward in recovery.
- Medicine is necessary. Being over medicated is not.
- Hope not only involves faith, but a plan of how to get to the place you want to be in life based upon your gifts and abilities.
- At times, peers need to challenge one another to move forward in recovery (and many times only peers are able to do this).
- One needs true accountability to safe people who will hold them accountable in their thinking and behavior.