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Depression workshop hosted by Interfaith Community Services

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Depression workshop hosted by Interfaith Community Services

A faith-based social service agency is teaching Tucson's clergy how to help those with a mental illness that affects about 15 million adults in America: depression. 

Interfaith Community Services will be presenting "Out of the Blue: Understanding Depression" at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church on Feb. 28, as part of an ongoing Lunch and Learn series. The luncheon will educate Southern Arizona clergy on helping those affected by depression.

"We want to put the tools in people's hands," said ICS Executive Director Bonnie Kampa.

A previous luncheon, "Mental Illness Awareness: Becoming a Welcoming Community,” was held in October 2012, during the National Alliance for Mental Illness's mental health awareness week.

The idea to start an educational series on mental illnesses began back in 2011, after the Jan. 8 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a dozen others. ICS began receiving requests from people in the community for mental health services, Kampa said. 

ICS first responded with a conference in April 2012, “Faith Communities and Mental Illness: Tools for Response and Care.” More than 450 people attended, Kampa said. The popularity of the conference inspired ICS to create the Lunch and Learn series, she said.

ICS invited Laurie Robinson and Michael Dattola from El Rio Community Health Center to speak at the luncheon. Dattola and Robinson also spoke about depression at the conference in April.

The two will discuss the following at the luncheon:

  • The signs of depression
  • Difference between feeling "blue" and clinical depression
  • Local care and treatment options
  • How to reach out to people who may be depressed

"Since depression is so prevalent and common, it is not surprising that there was quite a bit of interest in the subject matter that we presented," Dattola said.

About 10 percent of adults in Arizona are depressed, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control conducted in 2006 and 2008. Engaging in spiritual activity may help with the management of certain mental illnesses, including depression, according to a study conducted in 2012 by the University of Missouri.

"The world needs to not be afraid of those with mental illnesses, but learn how to support and advocate for them," said Rev. Anne Strong of St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church. Strong was one of the speakers at the conference in April; she also attended the first luncheon.

The series is being funded by the David and Lura Lovell Foundation, a private family foundation that supports mental health education as well as integrative medicine and philanthropic education.

Other members of ICS's steering committee also contributed to organizing the luncheon:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southern Arizona
  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson
  • Northminster Presbyterian Church
  • Jewish Family and Children's Services
  • Community Partnership of Southern Arizona
  • The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding  
  • Interfaith Community Services
  • St. Philips In The Hills Episcopal Church
  • Ginny Richardson of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

'Out of the Blue: Understanding Depression'

To register for the workshop call ICS at 297-2738, extension 23, or email The registration fee is $10. 

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