“Mental Health Awakening” Proposes a Systems Change

The title, Mental Health Awakening, means–It’s time to expand mental healthcare so it includes competent support for spiritual emergence, also known as the process of “spiritual awakening”.  This will elicit a systems change in psychology and psychiatry–as well as mental healthcare.

We intend to create THREE products:  a 2-hour online Docutraining® (documentary film with structured learning and community interaction) called “Mental Health Awakening” that will illuminate Spiritual Emergency as a legitimate, dynamic and often necessary experience on the path of personal evolution and wellbeing. A one hour film and a 22-min film for public broadcasting on TV will be derived from the Docutraining.  This will expand our outreach and inspire public discussion.

Through video testimony of experiencers and renowned experts, “Mental Health Awakening” will explore:

  • What spiritual emergency is
  • How to recognize phenomena associated with spiritual emergency and “crisis of meaning”
  • How to find and make use of qualified resources for transformative healing
  • How to maintain stability and further one’s spiritual growth and creative expression

Docutraining® facilitates reliable, repeatable behavior change and robust application that surprises, expands, and delights.  Docutraining® is intended to be used when behavior change needs to be scalable and contagious.  Docutraining®  is comprised of:

  • Documentary-style film
  • Practical skills for competence
  • Integrated training in human empowerment and risk taking
  • Personal workbook and interactive exercises
  • Dynamic, structured, community interaction
  • Live and online dissemination

Why “Mental Health Awakening” Now?

Research now shows that those with allegiance to spiritual practice have better mental health and better coping skills; whereas those who have no such spiritual expression have more negative mental health.  Still the education for  healthcare providers rarely  includes training in spiritual assessment, education about spiritual practices that are beneficial for mental health, and how to incorporate spirituality into healthcare.

In growing numbers, people are experiencing “Spiritual Emergence”. Many times, this is a manageable, enriching, and exciting process. But sometimes these experiences punch through the fabric of our worldview, creating a temporary but intense crisis called “spiritual emergency.” One might have sensory experiences that feel out of bounds, have trouble concentrating, have strange illnesses or pain, feel depressed, or discover ‘truths’ that run counter to what has previously given life meaning.

Many reach out to the traditional mental health system for help during these crises, not knowing what other support may be available. However, the mental health system is generally not equipped to support them because the science of mental health and the realm of spirituality have not been integrated. We often treat them as two parallel tracks going in different directions. Thus, the mental health system literally doesn’t recognize spiritual emergence. In their time of intense crisis, people are mis-labeled and therefore mis-treated. They often receive psychiatric diagnoses of various disorders that imply permanence to their condition; and they receive medications that actually complicate their process and erode their health. Some never make it “out” of that system, and never reach their new platform of stability and growth.

We need to be taught what Spiritual Emergence is, and what resources are available when we are stretched into a period of disorientation, depression, excitability, or crisis of meaning. We need to educate professionals in the mental health system so that they can either be more competent in dealing with spirituality or re-direct experiencers into channels that will support the spiritual emergence process and balance the person – body, mind and spirit. We need to educate the public so that each person might have the opportunity to recognize their process for the gift that it is, reach into affirming channels for support, understand the emergence as a marker of their development, and become empowered and curious about where it may lead them.

Our Goals:

  1. To transform the mental healthcare system by teaching an integrative approach that includes spiritual growth, also known as spiritual emergence, as foundational to mental-emotional wellbeing. We intend this training to be distributed on a scale that changes the way mental healthcare is practiced, and which drives top-down and bottom-up social change. An integrative paradigm to mental health assessment and care honors body, mind, spirit, and social connectivity.
  2. To help prevent suicide by providing context and direction to all age-groups, but especially to young adults who are most at risk for self-harm. Fortunately, we live in a time in which there are many choices and opportunities to learn how to align with our spiritual nature. Peer specialists are increasingly available in community centers, and more are offering support groups that nurture one’s spiritual nature.
  3. To articulate resources that are available online and in home-communities, so people can get qualified support for empowering spiritual awakening.

Our Team:

Emma Bragdon, PhDEmma Bragdon, PhD is the Exec. Director of IMHU and the President of its Board of Directors.  She will be the Executive Producer of the Docutraining®.  She wrote two of the first books published about Spiritual Emergency in 1988 and 1990.  She has trained 60+ Spiritual Emergence Coaches through IMHU since 2015.  She is also the author of 5 other books and co-producer of two documentary films on the bridge between spirituality and health.





Paula Sellars

Paula Sellars, MSW, is a former family therapist, craniosacral therapist, and trauma recovery therapist.  She is the award-winning originator of Docutraining®.  She will be the Producer/ Director and content editor.  Paula is the V.P. of the charitable Foundation doing business as IMHU.  One award-winning past project of hers is Stewards of Children for which she was both Director and Narrator.  That Docutraining® was dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse internationally.  Paula is the Executive VP of Phoenix Possibilities Inc.





mental health awakening

Marikka Malm is a Spiritual Emergence Coach and a Life Coach. Marikka has been working alongside behavioral health professionals  for 11 years as a Certified Peer Support Specialist. She is assisting us with crowdfunding and social media. Check out IMHU’s instagram which she manages here.





Our Advisory Board for Mental Health Awakening includes:

*Phil Borges, Co-producer of “Crazywise”, TED talk presenter on “Psychosis or Spiritual Awakening.”

*Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, Professor and Dept. Chair, Integrative Health Studies, School of Professional Psychology and Health at CIIS. Past co-President of the Leadership Council of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine. Dr. Jordan will oversee students at California Institute of Integral Studies who will measure the success of our project and publish the results in collaboration with Project Leaders.

*David Lukoff, PhD Professor emeritus, Sophia University. Director online education for healthcare providers to increase competency working with spiritual issues, SpiritualCompetency.com. Co-author of seminal article that encouraged editors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) to include a diagnostic category for “Religious or Spiritual Problem.”

*Lila Massoumi, MD, Chair of the Caucus on Complementary, Alternative, & Integrative Medicine at the American Psychiatric Association.

*Cassandra Vieten, PhD, President and CEO of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Co-Author, Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice: Guidelines for Psychotherapists and Mental Health Professionals, 2015.

*Craig Wagner, Former marketing executive for Hewlett Packard. Author of Choices in Recovery: 27 Non-drug Approaches for Adult Mental Health-an Evidence-Based Guide, 2016.

Funding Needed:

This project will cost approximately $378,000 USD. We have sent initial Funding Proposals to three major Foundations applying for $328,000. in grant money. We are now raising $50,000 via online crowdfunding so we can begin our project soon.   Crowdrise, the IMHU donation site, is currently dedicated to funding this project.

mental health awakening

if you would like to help get Mental Health Awakening off the ground.  Please make a donation on our secure site today! Your donation is fully tax-deductible in the USA, as well.

We also have gifts to give YOU when you contributeClick HERE to SEE

We welcome any size donation–We can’t do this alone!  Join us by contributing to this transformative undertaking!  Click on the button to the left to donate.

Thank you!

Emma Bragdon, PhD

Executive Director of IMHU.org