Copperas Cove church holds Mental Health Sunday program
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Sunday, Cadence Church in Copperas Cove held its fourth annual Mental Health Sunday.
Pastor Joe Bernier addressed the congregation before welcoming Jo Anne Harrison, M.Ed., LPC-S, for a question-and-answer discussion about mental health.
“We started (Mental Health Sunday) our very first year that we were open. This is our fourth time,” Bernier said. “Why do we do it? When I had my very first conversation with our chief of police here, he told me our number-one issue in our city is mental health...I know that the officers are on the front lines, and they’re dealing with people who have mental health issues, mental situations, and they need prayer.”
Bernier said that talking about mental health wasn’t something that churches used to discuss.
“I’m thankful today that we get to have these conversations in church. Before, you weren’t allowed to have mental health issues. You couldn’t talk about it in church, you couldn’t talk about it public forums, because people would think you’re weak, that people would think you have some kind of issues,” Bernier said. “Maybe there are places there still are like that. But in Cadence Church, it’s okay for us to talk about it and have these conversations. Why? Because if we can get closer to God, and He can speak to us, He can heal us, and we can help others. That’s the whole thing. We want to be whole. We want to live a life of freedom. Have you seen how much darkness is out there? If we can’t share the light, then who can?”
Bernier said the Bible doesn’t explicitly talk about the subject of mental health.
“However, it does speak about the heart, the mind, spiritual brokenness. It also talks about the condition of our soul. Our mental health is important, as it affects our whole being. As our mind goes, as our heart goes, we go. Proverbs 4:23 says to keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Out of it flows everything about you, about your life, who you are.”
Although people struggle and may feel isolated, he said God wants to provide hope to people, even if they might have gotten themselves into that situation.
“What oftentimes happens if we have these issues, we kind of sit in it, but that’s not God’s plan for us to sit in the awfulness of life. He has a plan and a future for you…When you go outside these doors and turn on your TV, and go on your phone and look at Facebook and TikTok, and you see no hope -- that’s not what our God has for us. He restores our soul. The enemy wants us to be fearful but that is not what God has given us.”
Harrison then joined Bernier in a question-and-answer discussion. Harrison, who is also Bernier’s counselor, is the founder of Killeen-based Restorative Hope Sanctuary, a Christian counseling facility which also uses equine therapy and talk therapy by licensed counselors.
Bernier asked Harrison how dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has affected mental health over the last 18 to 24 months.
“COVID has been a nightmare for mental health, not necessarily the virus, but things that have happened because of the virus,” said Harrison. “When we take ourselves away from people, when we listen to things in the world that go on and on, creating anxiety in us, it’s going to affect us. We have been boxed up and boxed away and not free in many ways, people feel claustrophobic…The enemy in this world has created an environment for us to be separated from one another.”
Harrison also talked about myths about addressing mental health, one of which is that some people think it’s a weakness to see a counselor or get other help.
“They think there’s something wrong that can’t be changed, that it’s also going to affect the way other people think of you,” said Harrison. “But it’s a chemical thing. Do you feel the same way when you break a toe? No, you broke your toe, you’re going to heal. And you go on. You might have a limp. Mental health is the same way. We need to look at it the way we look at our physical health. It’s part of our brain, part of our body.”
Another myth is that if you admit you’re broken you’ll never be fixed again, Harrison said.
“That’s untrue. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us live in an ivory tower. There are things that are going to happen and we are going to be exposed to them.
Things will happen in front of you that you had nothing to do with, that will affect you, like PTSD. Deal with it, not ignore it.”
Bernier said that recently the church has opened its doors to Restorative Hope for holding appointments with clients in Copperas Cove. Restorative Hope has locations in Killeen, Hutto, and Lampasas.
Cadence Church meets on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. at 815 E. Business 190 next to Dollar Tree.