The Interfaith Clergy of Bayonne will host a series of events focused on mental health. Rev. Dorothy Patterson of Wallace Temple AME Zion Church leads the initiative, with Pastor Victor Llerena and Sister Agnas Martinez.
“It is apparent that this is essential at this particular time, more so than any other time,” Patterson said. “You know, for 17 months now we’re in the pandemic. Grief and sorrow have so many different dimensions.”
Patterson said the events aim to “get the community to a place that we can at least be aware that mental illness exists, and giving them some tools and resources to be able to help them cope.” She hopes the series helps those impacted by the pandemic “move on and live through this particular situation in time.”
Patterson said the first of four faith-based mental health events was on July 15 in 16th Street Park. Faith leaders read scripture and recited prayers.
“It was a time of prayer,” Patterson said. But the clergy also approached the issue practically.
“There were readings, and then we brought resources because we are looking at this from a holistic point of view, not just from the faith perspective,” Patterson said.
Faith and resources
While a faith perspective is vital, according to Patterson, so is “giving the people the resources they need.”
Agencies on hand included the Bayonne Office on Aging, the Bayonne Community Mental Health Center, Journey Counseling Center, BN Counseling & Coaching LLC, the local chapter of the NAACP’s Health Committee, Angels Care Home Health, WTCARES food pantry, CarePoint Health, the Bayonne Police Department, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bayonne Rotary Club, the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation, and the city of Bayonne.
“People are experiencing unemployment, so [the BEOF] was there helping them with their rent,” Patterson said. “We had the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office out there with so many different resources and information… We had a ton of different agencies, just trying to cover all the avenues that we could think of that would give resources to people to help them and strengthen them during this time.”
Ice cream and other free refreshments were served.
This month and next
Patterson said the upcoming event will be family oriented. On Aug. 12 at 7 p.m., the group will present the movie “Inside Out.” The same resources will be available.
“It’s not just about providing a movie that gives insight and awareness of mental health from a family-friendly perspective,” Patterson said. “It’s also about providing people with the resources.”
The third event will be a Zoom mental health panel, Sept. 23, in conjunction with the Bayonne Rotary Club.
“We will have panelists talking about mental health, again providing resources and letting people know where they can go” Patterson said. She described akin to a “referral system to individuals who may need help.”
More information about the September event will be available at 16th Street Park during the August event.
More to come?
The last event is on Oct. 7, featuring Zoom skits to raise awareness and inform the public about mental health.
“We’ve seen in Bayonne, in the last four months, we probably had at least four to five suicides,” Patterson said. “We just had a man affected by mental illness, he was just killed. So taking a look at all the different things in the community, we just wanted to address the situation.”
Patterson said that a combination of faith and mental health resources can help.
“It’s all these other avenues like providing food or shelter,” she said. “It’s helping with all these things that cause stress and bring people to a place of being depressed and oppressed. We’re trying to free people up… In the midst of grief, there must be joy.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.