Maintaining hope important for Oklahoma2002-09-07
By Carla Hinton
Hooten, a Contact Crisis Help Line board member, said Americans were encouraged to keep their hope fresh and alive in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In the year following the tragedy, the buoyant emotion has kept afloat those seeking guidance and direction for their life. That is why, Hooten said, he created the name, A Festival of Hope, for Contact's upcoming quartet of activities that encourage people to pay heed to their mental health.
"Sept. 11 shook a lot of people's faith, their beliefs in God or whatever makes them stronger. If we lose faith -- our hope -- then evil and terrorism have won," said Hooten, a festival co-chairman.
Through the upcoming festival, Contact will focus on the important relationship of body, mind and spirit and help participants gain a better understanding about the essentials to wellness, the keys to a stable, fulfilling and productive life, and how to deal with life's challenges.
That A Festival of Hope begins just one day after the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorism events is no accident.
Festival organizers said through the terrorist attacks, which linked Oklahoma City with New York City and Washington, D.C., many Oklahomans may have felt again the trauma of the 1995 Murrah Building bombing.
Contact helped people deal with feelings of vulnerability, confusion and anger, and helped empower callers to deal with these emotions.
The effects of stress, anxiety and depression are real, festival organizers said.
One in five families is touched in some way by severe mental illness, with about 200,000 people in the Oklahoma City metro area experiencing a mental disorder during a year's time.
Contact received more than 37,700 calls in 2001, from people needing emotional support, referral information and crisis intervention.
Dr. W.D. "Dub" Rogers, a counselor with Family Christian Counseling in Oklahoma City, helped Contact connect faith-based groups for the festival.
He said it is important that spiritual wellness is addressed through A Festival of Hope activities.
In fact, several churches and faith-based organizations will participate in A Festival of Hope Wellness Fair set for Sept. 14 at Oklahoma City Community College.
Faith-based groups participating in the fair include Crossings Community Church; Scope Ministries; and Spiritual Assembly of Bahai's of Oklahoma City, among others.
"When I think of mental health, people have always tried to separate psychology and spirituality and science and spirituality," Rogers said.
"But a lot of research is being done showing there is a connection between health and faith and I think we are spiritual beings," he said.
Rogers said the wellness fair is an opportunity for churches and other faith-based groups to tell the public what they have to offer.
"Churches are interested in people's well-being," he said.
Rogers said many reforms have started in the church, and hospitals have sprung from denominational undertakings to name a few of the ways the faith community has reached out over the years to help people.
Churches help offer hope -- "where there's life, there's hope," he said.
"Sometimes, people can get so discouraged that they don't believe that and the tragedy, many times, is that people are in pain in any area and do not realize that there are programs designed to help them."
"It's just a matter of making that connection."
©Copyright 2002, The Oklahoman