The Youngest Nun: Filling a Critical Need

Lynn Mousel

As an adolescent psychiatrist Sister Lynn enjoys working with children.
And now the 4th in a series from Sister Lynn Mousel, "The Youngest Nun:"

In my last post I mentioned the three aspects of religious life that I focus on: prayer, ministry and community life. I covered prayer and now move on to ministry.

Before entering religious life, I had already completed my training as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. I am grateful that I have been able to continue this work as my ministry.  

These days I am working in Anaconda, Montana, at A.W.A.R.E., Inc., a mental health organization serving those with mental health needs and people with developmental disabilities. I am seeing adults as well as children, which I do enjoy.

An important aspect of what A.W.A.R.E. does is called wrap around services--providing case management, in-home services and therapists in the schools in addition to psychiatric services and community based therapists. The philosophy is to surround the child and the family or the individual adult with needed support to achieve their goals and function at their best in the community rather than need placement in an institution. The teamwork that is involved is a real joy.

I have thought a lot about the shortage of psychiatrists and mental health providers. The statistics from a recent Wall Street Journal article are startling:  Almost 91 million adults live in areas where shortages of mental health professionals make obtaining treatment difficult. A departmental report to Congress earlier this year said 55% of the nation's 3,100 counties have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers.  
Sister Lynn took this picture of her coworkers
taking time out for some team building and fun.

Montana, being wide-spread and rural, happens to be one of the states in a more serious shortage. We also have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. There is no question in my mind that I am helping to fill a critical need in today’s world, and this ties right with the CHM mission to meet the needs of the times