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Thanksgiving Marks 50 Years of Services at Silver Hill Hospital Non-Denominational Chapel
11/20/2012

This room is dedicated to God. Enter in peace, quiet and reverence. With His help, you will find courage, kindness, love and your best self.
 - Plaque inscribed at entrance of Silver Hill Chapel

Patients who are hospitalized on holidays still need faith and healing. Over the past 50 years, more than 100,000 patients have been admitted to Silver Hill Hospital and many have found solace within the walls of the chapel, nestled in the woods, down a gentle path from the Patricia Regnemer Main House. Built during Dr. William Terhune's tenure, the chapel provides a sanctuary for patients all year. The Thanksgiving service is specifically for patients who are not able to go home for the holiday. All services are non-denominational and led by hospital staff.

According to Dr. Sigurd Ackerman, President and Medical Director of Silver Hill, "The holiday season often conjures up images of warmth and happiness. But for many, especially those facing mental illness, addiction or other challenging life situations, the holidays can be a time of isolation and loneliness."

Ackerman goes on to say that faith and spirituality can help overcome the emptiness, and that many Silver Hill patients have used the chapel as a way to bring spirituality back into their lives. "As with other complementary treatments, practices such as prayer and meditation have a calming effect and encourage self acceptance. This may make it easier to participate in what could be otherwise anxiety producing activities."

Silver Hill's Chaplain, Rev. Kathleen Thompson, has worked with people with mental illness and substance abuse problems for years. She has found that people who are living with mood disorders and/or addiction experience a profound sense of disconnection from themselves and the world. Focusing on spirituality rather than religion can open a broader avenue of possibility for patients to begin the process of re-connection. "Spirituality can help them find a higher power, or other dimension in their lives - breaking down the isolation and providing a sense of belonging. Once this is achieved, it is often easier to rebuild relationships with family and friends."

Thompson encourages everyone to take a moment and say thank you this Thanksgiving. "All of us have challenges, but take a moment to appreciate what is good in life - be it for food, family and friends, the color of the leaves or briskness in the air or a clear, starry night. Saying thank you is a way to pause and reflect, and this will help you find spirituality and inner peace no matter where you are."

The National Alliance on Mental Illness FaithNet web portal has sample prayers, services, workshops for clergy and even Powerpoint presentations if you would like to learn more about the role of faith in healing mental illness.

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