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Fresh Hope for Mental Health

A Faith-Based Support Group for People Living with a Mental Health Challenge and Their Loved Ones

All people living with a mental health diagnosis and their loved ones are welcome to participate in Fresh Hope. You do not have to attend Christ the King to join Fresh Hope. No pre-registration or fees are required. Simply come as you are.


Please join us for weekly Fresh Hope meetings at CtK.

Tuesday Evenings
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Christ the King Lutheran Church
17195 Cleveland Road
South Bend, Indiana 46635

Fresh Hope is an international network of Christian support groups for those who have a mental health diagnosis and their loved ones.

At the core of Fresh Hope is the belief that it is possible to live well in spite of having a mental health challenge because of the hope we have in Christ: The great Physician, the wounded Healer, and the Liberator of all people.

A Fresh Hope group is a peer-to-peer-led, safe, encouraging, and healing environment where real hope and real healing take place and the sure hope of Christ is foundational.

Each week, Fresh Hope follows the same general format. For those who feel comfortable sharing, we begin with:


  • Introducing ourselves by first name only
  • Naming our diagnosis, or sharing that we are a loved one of a person with a diagnosis
  • Checking-in with one another on the following topics: Current mood, clarity of thought, and how much hope we have in the moment
  • Recitation of the six tenants of Fresh Hope, which include verses of scripture.
  • Sharing of joys and concerns
  • Time for prayer
  • Discussion of a mental health-related topic led by one of our trained facilitators


My life is affected by a mental health issue and cane 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 God alone can do all things. God is the source of our hope, and in God, we can overcome all things.

Philippians 4:13 (NRSV) I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.



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.

Romans 14:19 (NRSV) Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.



My disorder can become and 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.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NRSV) Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.



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 boundaries, and I choose my own joy despite the ups and downs of my loved one.

Together we remind of other that our hope and joy come from the Lord. God alone is able to fulfill our needs in every aspect of our lives.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV) For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.



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 a 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.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NRSV) We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.



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 form 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.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NRSV) For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of selfdiscipline.


It is no secret by now that I speak rather openly about my mental health challenges. When I made a commitment to confront these challenges over a decade ago, I simultaneously made the commitment to speak honestly about my clinical depression and anxiety so others would know they are not alone in their struggles.

Over the years, I’ve learned that sharing our stories with one another is a powerful act.

Anyone who has made the decision to seek help for a mental health challenge knows that those first few months require several decisions: making appointments with therapists and psychiatrists, weighing the benefits and side effects of starting medications, figuring out how and what to tell friends and family, etc. It can be so overwhelming.

This was certainly how I felt when I happened to hear about a mental health support group that met once a week at a local United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Indiana. I was in graduate school at the time; the last thing I wanted to do was add another obligation to my schedule, but I decided to try it anyway. The group meeting was sponsored by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). We met in the church’s basement complete with mismatched comfy couches, light refreshments, and boxes of Kleenex discreetly strewn about the room. I had little to no idea what to expect that evening. I quickly scurried over to an empty chair away from everyone else. As other group members arrived, they recognized that I was new and offered me a quiet hello or a subtle wave.

Throughout the evening, I noticed many people who walked into the room looked just like me or like people I knew. They were students, faculty, moms and dads, professionals, tradespersons, well-to-do and not so well-to-do folks. They were restaurant owners, stay-at-home parents, community college students, concerned friends, and just about everything in between. They smiled and chatted with each other. They teared up one minute and laughed the next. Yet here we all were, trying to grapple with our mental health challenges—or, in some cases, the experience of loving someone with a mental health challenge—with openness, authenticity, grace, and dignity.

What happened in that church basement over the next hour and a half would change my life. As people began to share, I distinctly remember feeling like I had found my people. I had never been given permission to speak about these topics in such an open way without encountering judgment or feeling embarrassed. But this was different. This felt safe.

I listened intently as individuals offered up bits and pieces of their stories to the group. People began to share their concerns with one another—everything from “I’m trying out a new therapist this week,” to “My meds aren’t working for me anymore and I’m not sure what to do,” to “I’m worried about my best friend who was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder,” to “This has been an incredibly hard week for me. I’m not sure how much longer I can live like this.”

As for me, I did not speak aloud at that first meeting, but I remember how deeply moving it was for me to be able to listen to the experiences of others that night. I remember how my anxiety melted away as I listened to people wrestle with whatever was on their mind that evening. Their stories were raw and honest, dripping with pain, confusion, and despair.

But this is the beauty of a support group: When individuals can share their pain, confusion, and despair within the safety of a supportive group, they are empowered to confront their innermost thoughts and struggles and even find a measure of healing within the walls of a compassionate community.

That evening all those years ago, a small space inside of me began to soften and slowly open. Sometimes, we try to quickly cover up that space to hide our shame and vulnerability, but other times, we are enabled to allow new and different things to enter that space: compassion, forgiveness, self-awareness, hard truths, mercy, and grace.

This is the stuff of healing. So again, I say: There is power in sharing our stories with one another.

Why do I tell this story? Because a support group like the one I described above exists at Christ the King Lutheran Church. It’s called Fresh Hope for Mental Health. Offering this group means that people within our congregation and the Michiana community who are struggling with mental health diagnoses can also find their people; hear and share their pain and experiences; and find a supportive safe haven that offers hope, healing, and solidarity.

Fresh Hope for Mental Health was created by Lutheran minister Pastor Brad Hoefs. It’s a Christian, peer-to-peer support group that gathers once a week at CtK. This group is not only for people with mental health diagnoses, but for their loved ones as well. As CtK continues to take steps to strengthen its mental health ministry, please consider joining us on Tuesday evenings beginning at 6:30 pm.

If you have questions, please contact Pastor Brad Davick at bdavick@ctkluth.com or 574-272-4306. You can also visit Fresh Hope’s website for additional information: www.freshhope.us.

Dr. Hillary Doerries,

Director of Music Ministries, Christ the King Lutheran Church

Facilitator, Fresh Hope for Mental Health

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