Mental health: High time churches ‘learned the language’

Dave HallByDave Hall

Mental health: High time churches ‘learned the language’

An eight-week course, taking participants on a journey discussing faith and mental health, will be introduced at CRE National 2019.

Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, from Vancouver, Canada, have found their message is crossing continents – hence their first visit to Sandown Park.

‘Churches rarely have the language to talk about the subject, and this has meant that people experiencing mental health challenges have felt isolated and misunderstood,’ explained Sanctuary’s Kate Dewhurst.

The course challenges the stigma associated with mental health and considers the importance of companionship, self-care and the community in the recovery journey.

When a preacher’s daughter was diagnosed with bipolar II diagnosis, she felt exposed to the stigma surrounding mental illness and was convinced the church would be no different.

‘Ashamed, fearful of judgment and convinced I was the only one struggling, I kept my diagnosis under wraps,’ she admitted. ‘I self-stigmatized. Why wasn’t my faith enough to balance the chemical makeup of my brain or calm my worries? From the beginning, Sanctuary’s passion for spreading mental health awareness within faith communities was evident. Words cannot express the freedom that comes from knowing that one is not weak, not of little faith, and most importantly, not alone.’

The Sanctuary Course, with an introductory 60 per cent off available to visitors at CRE National 2019, is a small group resource designed to help initiate and guide conversations about mental health and faith. 

‘It is a starting point, creating a base of shared knowledge from which churches can explore the next steps,’ said Kate Dewhurst. ‘Perhaps most importantly, through the simple act of talking openly, the course helps churches create safe spaces for people to share their mental health stories and receive support in community.’

• Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries are on stand S109 at CRE National 2019

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Dave Hall

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