Transitions and Celebrations in the NBA Mental Health & Wellness Initiative
After more than five years of service, Rev. Angela Whitenhill-Shields will transition out of her role as NBA’s MentalHealth & Wellness Initiative Manager. Angela began as a contract employee at NBA in 2015 helping to call together and lead a research and design team for Mental Health and Congregational Care. Under her leadership, this group laid the groundwork for what is now known as the NBA Mental Health & Wellness Initiative. In 2017, she transitioned to a full-time role to support the prioritization of mental health and wellness in the life of the church. She and the Mental Health & Wellness team have done this by establishing the necessary awareness and understanding required to counter stigma and positively change public understanding regarding mental illness.
“With NBA’s role as the health and social service ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Angela’s work has been instrumental in designing and implementing a vision of mental health and wellness within the context of the church,” says NBA President and CEO, Mark D. Anderson. “All too often our spirituality and mental wellness are seen as separate components of our identity. Angela has allowed us to recognize that our shared humanity requires us to faithfully address, embrace, and sometimes heal from our traumas so that we can be our full selves.”
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Angela specializes in spirituality-integrated psychotherapy, religious trauma, identity development, stigma reduction and change management. During her time at NBA, she has brought expertise in these areas through speaking, training and program development for Disciples clergy and community leaders. As a clinician, ordained clergy and leader in mental health and wellness, she created numerous webinars covering the importance of processing stress and trauma, especially during times of crisis. SoulCare Moments and SoulCare Conversations are examples of these resources and can be found with others on NBA’s website, www.nbacares.org/mental-health.
Angela’s last day with NBA will be February 15, 2021. After that, she plans to take some time to pause and process all that is happening in our world before exploring what may be next. “Amidst the heart-breaking health disparities and unjust death suffered by Black and Brown communities last year, I had a breaking point. What would start as a deep emotional response to watching the news turned into a deep yearning for ministry, which I couldn’t shake,” Whitenhill-Shields says. “I welcome and cherish all your prayers as I prepare to give birth this spring and take some much-needed time to discern, rest, and be inspired by the Spirit for the next season of my ministry!”
The work started by Angela and the Mental Health and Wellness team will not end with her departure. NBA is committed to accompanying organizations, clergy and other Disciples as they build communities of compassion in care in their neighborhoods and congregations. Supporting communities with mental health and wellness resources, especially communities of color, remains a priority and program area for the NBA, including our partnerships with health and social service ministries whose focus is to provide mental health resources and challenge public stigmas surrounding the topic.
“Angela gave her full self to creating communities of compassion and care through mental health and wellness. She holds a deep passion for justice, mental health justice in particular,” says NBA Vice President of Organizational Development, Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick. “Most importantly, Angela was an amazing colleague always supporting the work of NBA across program areas and departments, listening deeply, and leaning into new ways of doing the work with the greatest impact. We celebrate Angela as she journeys forward in this new season both personally and professionally!”