Fresh Hope Overcomes the Hopelessness from Mental Health Issues

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Fresh Hope continues to grow as it adds another group to its network of Christian support groups for those who suffer from mood disorders.

Fresh Hope helped me to overcome the hopelessness I was experiencing follow my mental health diagnosis.

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, one in four Americans, 57.7 million experience a mental disorder in a given year. Which means another quarter of the population if not more is affected by the mental health issue of someone they love. This is a sobering fact about mental health issues in the United States. Conservatively half of the US population is affected by mental health issues on a daily basis. Yet, it’s something seldom discussed. There is a shortage of mental health facilities in many states and too few “beds” while most states are struggling to figure out how to best meet the needs of the mentally ill. Needless to say, all of this can leave some to feel very hopeless.

Fresh Hope is a network of Christian support groups that is making a big impact in Omaha, Nebraska. Since its founding two and half years ago Fresh Hope has been able to help nearly 300 people; offering them hope. On Monday, December 5th, 2011 the next Fresh Hope group is beginning in the Omaha metro area. It will be the fourth Fresh Hope group in the area. The new group will be meeting at Dundee Presbyterian Church here in Omaha each Monday night at 7 p.m.

Pastor Brad Hoefs, founder of Fresh Hope says, “The purpose of Fresh Hope is to provide a safe, non-threatening setting for people who have mood disorders, their family and friends. It is a place where they can share insights, progress and setbacks in an effort to exchange information and encouragement within a Christian context so that they might come to a point where they are not only surviving, but enjoying and finding purpose in their lives.”

Within this context the participants inspire one another by confronting their problems instead of denying, complaining or blaming. And since spirituality is also part of being emotionally whole, participants also have the opportunity to inspire and encourage one another through sharing how their faith in Christ has helped them and continues to help them. Hoefs says, “We find that people who attend Fresh Hope are thrilled to find a faith based recovery group where they might be open about their faith and even encourage one another spiritually.” However, Hoefs notes that any sort of religious debate, religious “superiority” or spiritually condemning someone else’s beliefs is not permitted. Hoefs said, “There is no judgment, no comparison - only insight, suggestions based on common tools, identification, affection and encouragement shared between peers.”

Fresh Hope is not intended to replace professional treatment such as therapy and prescribed medications when needed. Rather, Fresh Hope serves as a supplemental peer support so that members and those who love them might develop tools to help them cope with their illness on a daily basis in order to live with dignity and hope in Christ. The goal is to see people in remission from the disorder they have as a opposed to simply “coping” with them. Hoefs says, “We are encouraging people to not “become” their diagnosis. Rather, Fresh Hope’s approach is to encourage them to live a life of hope and fulfillment “in spite” of their diagnosis.”

Here is what some Fresh Hope participants are saying about the program:

“People in Fresh Hope are not only surviving, but finding enjoyment and purpose for their lives. We inspire one another and shore how our faith in Christ has helped us.”
--Laura S.

“My spirit was broke. I couldn’t get over the center, the core of myself, being broke. The only place I was able to find that kind of hope was through Christ.”
--Robin P.

“I have a mood disorder, that is part of me. But there’s a difference between managing your illness and overcoming it. We are taught to believe we can have a joy-filled life, rather than just manage our symptoms.
--Brent M.

Fresh Hope is a mutual-help peer-to-peer support group in which members encourage one another as equal under the guidance of a facilitator. Fresh Hope is also a professionally guided group with a variety of educational, ministerial, social service, and psychiatric representatives serving on our Board of Directors.

Meeting location in the Omaha metro area:

  •     Monday night at 7 p.m.: Lasting Hope Recover Center, 415 S. 25th Ave

(25th and Harney) Omaha, NE 68108 (formerly the Richard Young Hospital) Omaha, NE

  •     Every Monday night, 7 p.m. at Dundee Presbyterian Church, 5312 Underwood Ave
  •     Omaha, NE 68132 402.558.2330 (Beginning Dec. 5th)

Tuesday nights at: Community of Grace Church, 3434 N. 204th Street, Elkhorn NE

  •     One of the small groups on Tuesday nights specializes in young adults who have mood disorders. 402.763.9255
  •     1st and 3rd Thursday nights of each month are at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 508 Angus Street, Gretna, NE 68028 402-332-4444

There is a Fresh Hope group meeting also in Waterloo, Iowa. Plus, leaders are planning to start a Fresh Hope group in Rochester, Minnesota. Another group of leaders are considering starting a group in Joliet, Illinois. There’s also a possibility of a group starting in Virginia.

Hoefs says that the Fresh Hope office receives contacts from people in other states who are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group in their area. He says that they are in the midst of preparing a workbook for participants in Fresh Hope to be published by early spring. And the workbook along with other leadership materials will help those in other regions easily start a group in their areas. Those who are interested in starting a group in their community should contact the Fresh Hope office.

Hoefs said when he was going through the early battle of recovery after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder he could not find a faith based recovery group. “The ones I did attend talked about spirituality. But, I needed something more than that. I need the ‘whole’ of recovery to be based on my Christian faith. See, I truly believe that Christ is ultimately the only one who can give sure and certain hope,” said Hoefs. Hoefs is both a pastor and state certified peer support specialist in the state of Nebraska. He said, “I suppose it’s no surprise that a pastor would want a faith based group. I’m just glad to see much of what I’ve cause and gone through being redeemed by the Lord as other folks are offered fresh hope when they feel the most hopeless.”

"It's amazing to see how the Lord can redeem all of the pain you caused and experienced," says Hoefs. "I went through some very public and painful manic episodes which cause a lot of pain to many people, especially my wife and children. So, I am so overwhelmed to see the difference that Fresh Hope is making in other people's lives. I've never seen lives change so drastically and at times so easily. It is all part of the Lord working all things together: Romans 8:28!"

For more information on Fresh Hope go to: or call 402.763.9255


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