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Event Series Event Series: The Sanctuary Course


 Sanctuary prepares the Church to support mental wellness.

Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries was founded in 2012 by Reverend Dr. Sharon Smith and Reverend Caroline Penhale. Sharon is a former occupational therapist whose doctoral research focused on the meaning of spirituality for people living with a mental health problem. Sharon previously served as a youth pastor and worked in acute mental health care in her home country of South Africa. Caroline served as a campus minister, and both women were members of the Community Mental Health Team formed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, where they conducted research focused on issues of spirituality in mental health care. Through their work, each witnessed firsthand the absence of mental health support within the Church and the harmful effect this absence had on people of faith who were diagnosed with mental health problems. They founded Sanctuary in order to equip the Church to make a difference in the lives of individuals struggling with mental health problems. Today, the ministry continues this mission by raising awareness and providing faith-based educational resources and training to promote mental wellness.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, all Canadians will be affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives, either through personal experience or through the diagnosis of a relative or friend. In fact, one in five Canadians faces a mental health problem every year. While these statistics may be new to you, the sense of urgency they convey is probably familiar. Mental health issues are increasingly prevalent within our society. Perhaps you are looking for ways to support a loved one, or perhaps you are in search of answers for yourself. Either way, you want to better understand the complex dynamics of mental health.

There is more to it than just understanding, however. As Christians, we want to discover the role of faith in mental health and hear what God, Scripture, and Church have to say in light of the unique challenges and experiences of mental health problems. The Sanctuary Course is designed to assist you in this process of discovery. It is the prayer of this ministry that you will find meaningful answers and be strengthened as a community of faith through your participation.

Who should participate in this course?

  • People with questions about mental health…
  • Mental health professionals with a wealth of knowledge to share…
  • Leaders who want to engage their community in mental health conversations…
  • People supporting loved ones with mental health problems…
  • People living with mental health problems…

The Sanctuary Course is for anyone who wants to learn about faith and mental health. It requires no previous training or expertise—just a willingness to engage in dialogue with other believers.

How does it work?
The Sanctuary Course is an eight-week study guide for small groups. Each week participants will gather together, read through the content out loud or listen to it on audiobook, watch a film, and engage in conversation, reflection, and prayer.

What does it cover?
Over the course of the eight weeks, participants will explore topics such as:

  • Understanding mental health and illness
  • Challenging stigma
  • The recovery journey
  • Companionship
  • Self-care
  • The role of community in mental health recovery

Each topic is explored from psychological, social, and theological perspective.   Additionally, each session is accompanied by a compelling film featuring the story of an individual who has journeyed through mental health challenges as a person of faith.




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