Beacon of Light

Beacon of Light is the mental health initiative of St. Andrew, inspired by the teachings of Jesus Christ, to provide grace and bring light to what can be a very dark world. Our mission is to teach best practices of mental health awareness and early prevention to our faith community as well area churches and organizations to create a community of care in North Texas. Beacon of Light is also focused on fostering a network of mental health professionals that will be able to support those who call St. Andrew home.

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To educate, train and serve. Our goal is to embed mental wellness and awareness into the culture at St. Andrew, the lives of our members and community.

Beacon of Light is currently providing the following services for all ages:

Clinical assessments to ensure members are aligned with appropriate providers specific to their individual needs

Providing a vetted referral list of mental health providers and resources to meet the needs of those who need help

Interventions to increase awareness and educate on mental health and well-being

Equipping St. Andrew with training to help identify signs of mental health issues and to take action to help those in need

Beacon of Light Staff

Doug Reed
Executive Director

Shawna Lewis, LPC-S
Program Manager

Mental Health and the Holidays

The holidays can be difficult, especially for those people who struggle with mental health. At Beacon of Light, we want you to know you are not alone. Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

 If you are struggling this holiday season, please reach out to Beacon of Light to schedule an in-person assessment at no cost to you. During this assessment you will meet with a counselor who will listen to your concerns and needs and connect you to resources such as support groups, therapists, and other professionals. The cost of these services is paid for by St. Andrew.

An excerpt on maintaining mental health during the holiday season

By the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

 The holidays can be a joy-filled season, but they can also be stressful and especially challenging for those impacted by mental illness. A NAMI study showed that 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse. For individuals and families coping with mental health challenges, the holiday season can be a lonely or stressful time, filled with anxiety and/or depression. If you’re living with a mental health condition, stress can also contribute to worsening symptoms.

Suggestions For How You Can Reduce Stress and Maintain Good Health During The Holiday Season
  • Accept your needs. Be kind to yourself. Put your own mental and physical wellbeing first.
  • Write a gratitude list and offer thanks. Thank those who support you, gratitude has been shown to improve mental health
  • Manage your time. Don’t try to do too much.
  • Be realistic. We all have struggles one time or another and it’s not realistic to expect otherwise.
  • Set boundaries. Family dynamics can be complex. Acknowledge them and accept that you can only control your role. Limit exposure if necessary.
  • Practice relaxation. Deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are good ways to calm yourself.
  • Exercise daily. Schedule time to walk outside at the minimum. Daily exercise naturally produces stress relieving hormones in your body and improves your overall health.
  • Set aside time for yourself and prioritize self-care. Schedule time for activities that make you feel good.
  • Eat well. With dinners, parties, and cookie trays at every turn, our eating habits are challenged during the holiday season. Try to maintain a healthy diet through it all.
  • Get enough sleep. Symptoms of some mental health conditions can be triggered by getting too little sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. They don’t actually reduce stress: in fact, they often worsen it.
  • Spend time in nature. Studies show that time in nature reduces stress.
  • Volunteer. The act of volunteering can provide a great source of comfort.
  • Find support. Whether it’s with friends, family, a counselor or a support group, airing out and talking can help. Consider attending a free support group provided by your local NAMI Texas affiliate. If you or someone you love is experiencing a crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255; use the Crisis Text Line by texting NAMI to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor for free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.
  • Keep up or seek therapy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to share with your mental health professional. They can help you pinpoint specific events that trigger you and help you create an action plan to change them. If you’re already seeing a therapist, keep it up.


NAMI's key points to avoiding holiday blues

  • Holiday blues are different from mental illness, but short-term mental health problems must be taken seriously. They can lead to clinical anxiety and depression.
  • People already living with mental illness are often affected by the holiday blues. Individuals, families and friends should know symptoms and watch out for each other.
  • There are many ways to avoid or minimize holiday blues.
  • Alcohol is a depressant. Don’t drink when feeling stressed or down.
  • Local NAMI affiliates can be a source of support.
  • It’s a myth that suicides increase during the holidays, but suicide risks are always serious.
  • Children and teens get the blues too. The highest rate for child psychiatric hospitalizations occurs in winter.


Excerpt from "nine keys to a resilient holiday"

Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D., is an associate professor at UCLA and the author of The Path: Mastering the Nine Pillars of Resilience and Success

Nine Keys to Being More Resilient During the Holidays

1. Plan ahead to feel more in control. One of the worst kinds of stress is when you don’t feel in control. To avoid this, plan ahead and be realistic with your time. Make your list of gifts and other holiday chores that need to get done. The more realistic you are with your expectations of yourself, the less stress you will experience. Also, when you plan ahead, your decisions are less emotionally based, and tend to be better choices.

 2. Stay in balance. Make sure you include enjoyable activities in each day, not just your holiday obligations. Reward yourself when you have accomplished goals, even small ones. Consider seeing a comedy or listening to music. Do things that feel good!

 3. Dress rehearsal: visualize your day ahead of time. Go through each day first in your mind’s eye. An early preview of the day allows you to discover obstacles before they occur, plan ways around them and clear paths toward greater success. Visualizing your actions also gives you greater confidence about doing them correctly.

 4. Make sure it’s your agenda. The holidays are often filled with perceived obligations. Make conscious decisions about those obligations. Make sure they are your choices, not someone else’s.

 5. Mindfulness and adjusting your perspective. Mindfulness is about being in the moment in a place of acceptance. Perspective is the way you look at a situation; perspective determines which part you make important – and are aware of – and which part becomes insignificant, small or superfluous.

 6. Focus on relationships during the holidays. The holiday season accentuates the discomfort of being alone. Don’t wait until the last minute to call friends or make plans. Hold the intention of using this time of year to deepen your relationships with caring people.

 7. Be good to yourself. It’s easy to be critical and judgmental toward yourself. Set an intention to be loving and accepting of the most important person in your life: You! Recognize that you deserve to be happy and find healthy ways of making yourself happy. Be your own best friend.

 8. Take the initiative to resolve emotional unfinished business. Experience the holidays as a time of renewal, getting ready for a new start. Identify and let go of old issues, anger, and resentments that you have been lugging around with you; be generous in your forgiveness. Then let yourself feel good about your expansiveness.

 9. Smile each day. A smile is unique. This may be the most difficult thing for some of you to do. Hold the intention – and remind yourself every morning by writing it down on a 3x5 card – to be happy that day.

Excerpt from "how to cope with negative holiday emotions"

Hilary Jacobs Hendel is a certified psychoanalyst and AEDP psychotherapist and supervisor.

 The Change Triangle is the guide I use to help my clients work with emotions and the ways we avoid them. To “work the triangle” the steps include:

  • Identifying what you are experiencing
  • Pausing to breathe and calm yourself
  • Naming the core emotions you are feeling in that moment
  • Listening (without judgement) to what your emotions are telling you
  • Thinking through how to move forward

 Instead of suppressing core emotions, like anger and sadness, which when invalidated worsen anxiety and depression, the Change Triangle shows us how to identify and be with our emotions so we stay connected to ourselves.

Here are FIVE Suggestions to Help You Get Through the Holidays
  • Don’t avoid your emotions. Instead identify and validate them.
  • Give yourself compassion. Notice if you are being hard on yourself or blaming yourself and instead be compassionate to your suffering. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend.
  • Remind yourself that emotions are temporary (even though they may feel like they could last forever).
  • Remember to kindly, yet firmly, set limits and boundaries. Don’t let yourself be abused. We can all learn to do this even though it is never easy. You can say for example, “If you continue to criticize me, I will have to leave.”
  • Try new approaches. Family members often get stuck in roles.
  • Finally, if the holidays are hard for you, know that you are not alone. For all of us, the holidays bring forth a generous mix of emotions. However, it’s not whether we have emotions that determines our fate, it’s how we make use of them.


Armed with a general understanding of emotions, a willingness to work with them, and the courage to try something new, we can cope with our negative holiday emotions in a healthy way.


The information and resources provided on the Beacon of Light website is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied upon for any diagnostic or treatment purposes, patient education or any other reason. This information is not to be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, advice, or treatment, and does not contain all-encompassing or comprehensive information regarding mental health. You should seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider or professional with any questions or concerns that you have and should not disregard or delay in seeking such advice because of information contained on this website.

What is Mental Health? states that mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems
Mental Health and Wellness

The American Mental Wellness Association reported that health, in all areas, is a continuum. Nobody is perfectly healthy in every aspect. However, finding health in the four main dimensions of your life – biophysical, psychological, social, and spiritual – is the best way to maintain wellness and stop problems before they begin.


Healthy Diet

Regular Exercise

Restful Sleep

Avoid substances


Self-Care, Mindfulness, and Grounding

Recognizing and Avoiding Burnout

Recognizing and Avoiding Perfectionism


Support system containing good friends/family

Positive work/school environment


Healthy dreams and aspirations

Good set of morals

Belief in Higher Being

Early Warning Signs states: Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school


What is Mental Illness?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) describes mental illness as a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling, behavior or mood. These conditions deeply impact day-to-day living and may also affect the ability to relate to others. If you have — or think you might have — a mental illness, the first thing you must know is that you are not alone. Mental health conditions are far more common than you think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are scared to, talk about them. Mental illness is no one’s fault.


NAMI provides the following information on Anxiety:

Everyone experiences anxiety. However, when feelings of intense fear and distress are overwhelming and prevent us from doing everyday things, an anxiety disorder may be the cause.

Symptoms of Anxiety

For most people, anxiety changes how they function day-to-day. People can experience one or more of the following symptoms:

Emotional symptoms:
• Feelings of apprehension or dread
• Feeling tense and jumpy
• Restlessness or irritability
• Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger

Physical symptoms:
• Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
• Upset stomach
• Sweating, tremors, and twitches
• Headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
• Upset stomach, frequent urination, or diarrhea


NAMI provides the following information on Depression:

Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Left untreated, depression can be devastating for the people who have it and for their families. Some people have only one episode in a lifetime, but for most people depression recurs. Without treatment, episodes may last a few months to several years.

Symptoms of Depression

For most people, depression changes how they function day-to-day. Common symptoms of depression include:

• Changes in sleep
• Changes in appetite
• Lack of concentration
• Loss of energy
• Lack of interest
• Low self-esteem
• Hopelessness
• Changes in movement
• Physical aches and pains

Bipolar disorder

NAMI provides the following information on Bipolar disorder:

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar experience high and low moods—known as mania and depression—which differ from the typical ups-and-downs most people experience.


Symptoms and their severity can vary. A person with bipolar disorder may have distinct manic or depressed states but may also have extended periods—sometimes years—without symptoms. A person can also experience both extremes simultaneously or in rapid sequence.

Severe bipolar episodes of mania or depression may include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions. Usually, these psychotic symptoms mirror a person’s extreme mood. People with bipolar disorder who have psychotic symptoms can be wrongly diagnosed as having schizophrenia.

To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person must have experienced at least one episode of mania or hypomania. Hypomania is a milder form of mania that doesn’t include psychotic episodes. People with hypomania can often function well in social situations or at work. During mania, moods can rapidly become more irritable, behavior more unpredictable and judgment more impaired. During periods of mania, people frequently behave impulsively, make reckless decisions and take unusual risks. Most of the time, people in manic states are unaware of the negative consequences of their actions. With bipolar disorder, suicide is an ever-present danger because some people become suicidal even in manic states.

The lows of bipolar depression are often so debilitating that people may be unable to get out of bed. Typically, people experiencing a depressive episode have difficulty falling and staying asleep, while others sleep far more than usual. When people are depressed, even minor decisions such as what to eat for dinner can be overwhelming. They may become obsessed with feelings of loss, personal failure, guilt, or helplessness; this negative thinking can lead to thoughts of suicide.

Suicide Prevention

The National Institute of Mental Health reports suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. Suicidal behavior is complex, and there is no single cause.

Warning signs that someone may be at immediate risk for attempting suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, such as making a will
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Making a plan or looking for ways to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling great guilt or shame
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Changing eating or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

The main risk factors for suicide are:

  • Depression, other mental disorders, or substance use disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • A history of suicide attempts
  • Family history of a mental disorder or substance use
  • Family history of suicide
  • Exposure to family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Presence of guns or other firearms in the home
  • Having recently been released from prison or jail
  • Exposure, either directly or indirectly, to others' suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or celebrities

Most people who have risk factors will not attempt suicide, and it is difficult to tell who will act on suicidal thoughts. Although risk factors for suicide are important to keep in mind, someone who is showing warning signs of suicide may be at higher risk for danger and need immediate attention.

Stressful life events (such as the loss of a loved one, legal troubles, or financial difficulties) and interpersonal stressors (such as shame, harassment, bullying, discrimination, or relationship troubles) may contribute to suicide risk, especially when they occur along with suicide risk factors.

Family and friends are often the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide, and they can take the first step toward helping a loved one find mental health treatment.


NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Mental Health Conditions.” Accessed August 19, 2021

Mental “What is Mental Health?” Accessed August 19, 2021

AMWA: American Mental Wellness Association. “Staying Healthy.” Accessed August 19, 2021

MIMH: National Institute of Mental Health. “Suicide Prevention.” Accessed August 19, 2021

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Anxiety Disorders.” Accessed August 19, 2021

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Depression.” Accessed August 19, 2021

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Bipolar Disorder.” Accessed August 19, 2021

Get Help

The information and resources provided on the Beacon of Light website is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied upon for any diagnostic or treatment purposes, patient education or any other reason. This information is not to be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, advice, or treatment, and does not contain all-encompassing or comprehensive information regarding mental health. You should seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider or professional with any questions or concerns that you have and should not disregard or delay in seeking such advice because of information contained on this website.

If You or someone you know is in Crisis

Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline webpage, Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). All services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency

Visit the Veteran's Crisis Line webpage, Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, or Text 838255. Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. This free support is confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This service serves all veterans, all service members, National Guard and Reserve, as well as their family members and friends. 

For any victims and survivors of domestic violence who need support, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline webpage. Call 1-800-799-7233 to seek help or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY, or if you're unable to speak safely please text LOVEIS to 22522.

It is important to note that suicide is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and should not be ignored. If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain
  1. ASK: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question, but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
  2. KEEP THEM SAFE: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
  3. BE THERE: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research suggests acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
  4. HELP THEM CONNECT: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) and the Crisis Text Line’s number (741741) in your phone, so it’s there when you need it. You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
  5. STAY CONNECTED: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.

MIMH: National Institute of Mental Health. “Suicide Prevention.” Accessed August 19, 2021


National Alliance on Mental Illness 

National Institute of Mental Health

Mental Health America

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 

American Psychological Association 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Ask Beacon of Light

Please let us know if you have questions or would like more information.


What is Mental Health treatment?

Mental Health treatment is on a continuum of care that can range from individual therapy to residential treatment.

The continuum of care includes inpatient hospitalization, residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient therapy, after care groups, support groups, group therapy, individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy.  

If you or someone you love is interested or does not know where to start contact Beacon of Light and we can help get you on the path to wellness.

How does someone access Mental Health treatment?

Most mental health and medical professionals as well as hospitals can assess someone for mental health treatment.

 What are the different types of Mental Health professionals and what do they do?
  • Psychiatrists | The American Psychiatric Association states that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems and prescribe medications.
  • Psychologists | The American Psychology Association states that psychologists with doctoral degrees have either a PhD, PsyD, or EdD and have the professional training and clinical skills to help people learn to cope more effectively with life issues and mental health problems. They are licensed by their states to provide a number of services, including evaluations and psychotherapy.
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) | The American Counseling Association states that an LPC is a counselor with a master’s degree in counseling. Professional counselors help clients identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause emotional turmoil; seek to improve communication and coping skills; strengthen self-esteem; and promote behavior change and optimal mental health. An LPC Associate, previously termed LPC Intern, must operate under the supervision of an LPC Supervisor to provide clinical therapy or mental health services.
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) | The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy states that marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems. Typically, marriage and family therapy is brief, solution focused and specific with attainable goals. An LMFT Associate must operate under the supervision of an LMFT Supervisor to provide clinical therapy or mental health services.
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) | The National Association of Social Workers states that social workers promote well-being through by assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness, substance use, and other addictions. A Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW, without the Clinical designation) must operate under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or LCSW to provide clinical therapy or mental health services.
  • Registered Play Therapist (RPT) | The Association for Play Therapy states that a registered play therapist is a mental health professional with training and experience working with children and families through the use of play therapy. An RPT has met specific criteria and is registered through the Association for Play Therapy.
Can people recover from Mental Illness? Is there a cure?

There is not a “cure” for mental illness, however people can and do recover from mental illness and return to a typical, healthy life. People with mental illness will always have to manage their mental health, much like someone with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

What does dual diagnosis or co-occurring illness mean?

Dual diagnosis means more than one diagnosis. For example, when someone has depression and an addiction like alcoholism, providers will call this a dual diagnosis.  

Co-occurring illness means there are more than one type of illness, such as a psychical illness and a mental illness. For example, when someone has depression and heart disease, providers will call these co-occurring illnesses.

Counseling Center

Jenny Gomez

Jenny Gomez is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist and has years of experience in both private and non-profit settings working with children and adolescents, individuals, families, and couples struggling with a variety of issues including:

Abuse and recovery
Family violence and sexual abuse
Pervasive developmental disorders (such as Autism)
Behavioral concerns
Grief and loss, and other common life challenges

Ruben Gomez

Ruben Gomez is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Texas and his Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Amberton University. Ruben is currently obtaining his Ph.D. in Psychology from Northcentral University, and is being supervised by Ken Johnson, Ph.D. He provides counseling for individuals and families with issues such as:

Grief recovery
Divorce support
Stress management
Relationship problems
Conflict resolution
Parenting and family issues
Work and career issues
Addiction and recovery

Ruben provides a non-judgemental and encouraging environment that fosters growth. He utilizes an approach that provides support and practical feedback to help clients resolve current problems and create long-standing positive patterns.