From the Mental Health Team

Mental Health Resources


By Rev. Thomas Taylor, LCSW-R, Ph.D., Lutheran Counseling Center Pastoral Counselor

For years, I never knew my neighbor’s politics. Then political flags popped up all around us. We’ve always had plenty of US flags but these flags were different and felt different – they were political, for one politician or another. One of our neighbor’s politics was hard to miss. In addition to flying his flag in support of his favorite candidate, talk radio blared throughout the day so neighbors couldn’t avoid hearing about his political views. Despite our different views, we still greeted him cordially whenever we saw him out with his dog.

Then one day he stopped my wife and struck up a conversation. He asked about her mom. He said he hadn’t seen them out walking for a while and wondered if she was alright. Touched, my wife told him her mom had died. He said he was sorry to hear that and that he’d always enjoyed seeing them out walking. Although my wife’s feelings about his politics had not changed, she felt more connected to him. Their brief talk humanized them both.

We are now in an election year and tensions are going to mount among those we consider our neighbors and those we do not. According to the American Psychological Association, 68% of Americans reported feeling stressed leading up to the last presidential election. This increase in stress requires that we deliberately find ways to ground ourselves. Looking for our common humanity is one way to ground ourselves, especially when faced with difficult conversations around politics.

Rachael Dunkel-Dodier, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Founder of Bridger Peaks Counseling in Bozeman Montana*, observes “The more that we create disconnection, even in our differing values, the more we create pain and hurt in our country.” To counter this tendency to disconnect, Dunkel-Dodier recommends we pivot and ground ourselves by leaning “into saying, yes, you are different than me, and I still honor who you are as a human, and honor where you’re coming from, without creating more of a divide.”

The Gospel message is we are all children of God who share a common humanity and the same neighborhood – God’s neighborhood. Find an excuse to talk with your neighbors so we can appreciate and enjoy our shared humanity. What a gift!

Here’s praying for a more connected and less stressful election year.

~Tom Taylor Interim Co-Executive Director, LCC

* Carroll, Bryanna “Mental health counselors offer tips to cope with Election Day stress,” NBCMONTANATV, November 7th 2023.

The Rev. Thomas S. Taylor, PhD, LCSW-R, STM, is currently Interim Co-Executive Director of the LCC. He is a Certified Psychoanalyst and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He is currently President of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP) and a Clinical Supervisor for LCC. He is counselor-in-residence at Advent Lutheran Church in New York City. An ordained pastor of the ELCA, he has extensive experience working with individuals and couples and as a seminar presenter.