danny cheah

Danny Cheah

WATCH THE VIDEO INTERVIEW

Update on The Sanctuary Podcast:

During these extraordinary times, while we can’t be with each other physically, we can reach out through screens and over phones, and we can share our stories with each other. Join Sanctuary’s CEO, Daniel Whitehead, as he interviews pastors, front line workers, ministry leaders, and friends about their experience of the pandemic and where they are making meaning and finding hope in the ups and downs of this season.

Episode Description:

Danny Cheah, Head of Clinical Services at the Alfred Hospital Child and Youth Mental Health Service in Melbourne, Australia, discusses what churches can do to support people living with mental health challenges. He talks about the importance of self-care; the need to reclaim spirituality in the mental health space; and how Christian discipleship is essential in plugging the gaps between the struggles we face daily and what Scripture teaches about living our lives.

A Note of Caution: This episode of The Sanctuary Podcast deals with sensitive subjects such as suicide, so please use your discretion about whether listening feels safe for you at this time. If you’re unsure, consider listening with a trusted friend.

Running time: 33:57

Release date: July 31, 2020

Resources mentioned in the show:

Alfred Hospital Child and Youth Mental Health Service

Neuma Church

Mark 7:31 (Jesus in the Decapolis)

Eating Disorders

Psychosis

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The Sanctuary Course

Faith, Grief, and COVID-19

Crisis Resources:

For your quick reference, here are nationwide emergency numbers and crisis lines:

  • Canada: 911, Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566
  • British Columbia: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
  • United States: 911, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • United Kingdom: 999/112, Samaritans: 116 123
  • New Zealand: 111, 1737, Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800-543-354
  • Australia: 000, Lifeline: 13 11 14 

TRANSCRIPT

Daniel Whitehead: Well, welcome to The Sanctuary Podcast. I am your host during COVID-19. My name is Daniel Whitehead, and I am the CEO of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries. The podcast is doing something a bit different during this season. What we’re doing is we’re focusing on people’s stories, and we’re basically talking to friends and people we know from around the world, who work in the intersection of faith and mental health, or work in a vocation that’s related, and we’re just asking them the simple question of how they’re doing, what are you seeing, and what are your experiences. And today we’re joined by a friend of mine: we’re joined by Dr. Danny Cheah. Danny is based in Melbourne. Hey Danny, good to see you.

Danny Cheah: Hey Dan, good to catch up with you.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah, thanks for joining us. So Danny is a child and adolescent psychiatrist—I’ve written this down which is why I’m looking down to read it—he’s the Head of Clinical Services at the Alfred Hospital Child and Youth Mental Health Service in Melbourne, Australia, and he leads about seventy mental health professionals. He also lectures at the University of Melbourne in their psychiatry course. And Dan is, he’s a Christian person of faith; he attends Neuma Church in Melbourne, a church that I’ve attended a number of times when I’ve visited Melbourne to see family. And Danny was it, it was actually my sister-in-law that introduced us, is that correct?

Danny Cheah: Yeah, it was Janie. We were, we were at the same campus serving together and she put us in touch actually on Facebook. I think it was over twelve months ago now, and sort of we just connected and went from there I guess.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah, it’s great. So Danny is someone that I regularly just, sort of, will send a little text to or just if a resource comes out, I’ll ping him so we kind of WhatsApp each other every now and again. But been great seeing what Danny does, following you on Facebook, Danny, and seeing that part of your vocation—as well as being a clinical psychiatrist—part of your vocation is to go out and help churches in various parts of—would you say Australasia and Asia? Would that be a fair reflection?

Danny Cheah: I’ve been to a few different places in Asia, in Malaysia and Bangkok and also around a few different cities around Australia as well, just trying to promote an understanding about mental health. Initially [I] started off with some NGOs, and in the last couple of years I’ve been speaking at churches a lot more, running sort of workshops and things, but also in the main services sometimes. And it’s great to have been able to link up with you, Dan, in terms of sharing some of the resources that you’ve got through Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, following on from these introduction talks that I do, so that I can, you know: it’s often after the initial talks [that] people are wanting more and, you know, a talk can only achieve that much, and to be able to kind of link them up with some resources to look at, and to use, to help to disciple people within the church as well in this area.  

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah, well, we’re very grateful for that Danny. It’s really a joy and a privilege to partner with you. And that’s a really interesting point, you’re going out and delivering workshops in various churches, and, you know, and travelling significant distances to do that probably only highlights that this is an under-resourced area, the whole faith and mental health intersection, seems from our perspective here in Canada to be under-resourced. Would that be a fair reflection of what you see in Australia as well?

Danny Cheah: Yes, I think, comparatively—I think mental health is quite reasonably well-resourced, I think, in comparison to a number of other countries. The government does put a lot of significant funding in mental health and try to improve in that area, but obviously there are gaps and people fall through the cracks as well. In speaking through—in a few different places and meeting people and hearing their stories over and over again, how people are struggling to find the help that they need, they might feel afraid of speaking up as well, but also even if they did, it’s really difficult to access the help that they need or it’s really expensive, but also unfortunately the quality of care delivered is also quite variable as well. So I think where I kind of got to, really, was just thinking about how do we actually be partnering with community and to build capacity and resilience at a primary kind of care level rather than expecting everyone to be able to find a professional? Because I think we really need to kind of bring everyone together to be able to meet this gap; I don’t think we can rely on governments to fund all the adequate level of professionals to be able to meet this gap in this lifetime. I think we should, I think we should pursue that, but realistically, this requires a lot of people coming together to work in this space and to collaborate and to share. And one of the things I really enjoy about the materials that you’ve got is the importance of lived experience through recovery in mental health. And that’s a huge part of the philosophy of the service that I work in in terms of our approach to delivering mental health care.

Daniel Whitehead: It’s a really interesting point you pick up on. Obviously as a clinician, as a psychiatrist who oversees a lot of people, and in many ways, you know, professionally speaking, you’re pretty near the top of the game, you know. You’re impacting a lot of people with that—from that clinical medical field, which at Sanctuary we are big champions of the work of doctors and psychiatrists and psychologists and therapists. But we’re always saying—helping or saying to churches—you know: this isn’t just a role for the clinicians, this is—the clinicians have a very important role to play, and we need great clinicians doing great work. But equally important is the role of the spiritual community, is the role of families and support structures that can give people a purpose for living, beyond making someone medically well. And it strikes me that sometimes, I don’t know if you’ve found this, but sometimes churches want to help, and very often they’ll say to a—like they’ll try to replicate the work of a clinician, and what we would say is, “No, no don’t do that. Focus on your strengths, focus on the things you can do that a clinician can’t do.” I wonder whether this is a common sort of occurrence you find in the work that you’ve done with churches?

Danny Cheah: Yeah, so in some of the talks I’ve been doing it’s really been around equipping, say connect group or life group or cell group leaders, and thinking about the different challenges that they might meet; understanding their role and boundaries in terms of what they could do best in terms of supporting people in the group and not being unprofessional; when to kind of get help or support people in terms of getting help. But I think the key work around supporting leaders or church leaders and people supporting or caring for people, generally in a church space, is in the area of self-care, and having healthy boundaries and to be able to look after yourselves, learn to look after ourselves before we actually are able to kind of pour out and give to people, and be able to set those boundaries so we can actually sustain the work that we do. And so that’s really been a huge part of the message, I think working in the church space but also in community space as well—I think a lot of people that come to the talks that I deliver are usually carers in families of a loved one who’s struggling, who may be afraid or reluctant to get help. And the families are often left with the ripple effects of the mental health challenges or difficulties they are facing. And equally the importance of self-care is such an important message to get across. To be able to sustain that space and be able to look after themselves, because it gets—I can only imagine what it’s like to have to, to manage certain things that seem quite relentless and enduring, and very challenging too. And so, going back to what you were talking about in terms of the, the space in church: It’s about kind of trying to bring all those roles together, and understanding each other’s roles, and how we can actually be so valuable in terms of being able to come together to support people from a holistic recovery process. 

I think for quite some time in the mental health space there was a rejection of anything spiritual; the idea of it was very scientifically focused and therapeutically focused. And it went sort of very kind of “secular” if that was the right word to use. And then after some time people—clinicians or professionals—discovered, I guess, their gaps in terms of people’s recovery. They started to look at a number of different spiritual frameworks, and interestingly I think we tend to look somewhere else, so a lot of my colleagues who are, you know, Western-trained clinicians, started looking towards Eastern philosophies, and Buddhism and mindfulness, and to be able to fill that spiritual gap or that need. And so then that started that pathway of actually understanding the person as a whole; the concept of recovery; and all that. And I think more recently I’ve been, you know, I’ve been in lots of conversations with our worship pastor at my church at Neuma, Stacey Hilliar, who’s been helping me understand about things like Christian meditation, things that—it is biblical and a spiritual sense that intersect with mental health, to be able to kind of learn and grow in that space, and hopefully be able to reclaim this space and this language in the mainstream mental health place. And I can see that on social media platforms: I do follow a number of different organisations and churches, and there’s more and more conversations about mental health, there’s more and more—there are more and more pastors and leaders speaking up about their own personal mental health experiences, which is a massive impact on the church community in being able to overcome that stigma and fear and taboo. So I’m seeing that as an emerging sort of trend, and a focus of a number of different—whether it’s churches I’ve been to or just, looking at people’s social media platforms.

Daniel Whitehead: That’s very good. It’s really interesting hearing you talk about the, the change in the clinical model, the more scientific model over the years, that incorporates or makes space for spirituality. So in The Sanctuary Course we talk about the bio-psycho-social model, but we meant that to go bio-psycho-social-spiritual model, there is, you know, and that is a growing field in the sector of work you work in. What’s interesting for me as someone who, you know, my Masters was in theology focusing on Christian history, so whenever I look at a situation or, I’m always asking the question, “How did we get here? What has happened to bring us to this point?” And it strikes me—here’s my hypothesis based on what you’ve just said—that basically we’ve come to the, you know, in this modernity experiment where we’ve all been told we can do what we want, we can achieve what we want, we’re going to make the world better, everything is going to be all right, and that hasn’t worked out. We’re now being forced to a place to acknowledge that the mystery, the transcendent spirituality has a key part of our personhood. Like people are more than just biological; they are—there is something else deeper going on. And the sadness for me is that professionals, as you said, have to turn to other religions and traditions outside of Western culture. Because sadly, all too often, Christianity in the West has sort of pushed away those sort of practices which are actually in our past—practices like meditation and mystery and, you know, relationality, these are all in the rich history of the Church. But sadly in the West we’ve ejected those, because we’ve said to sort of the more modern idea, like “Oh yeah we can work with you, we don’t need, we don’t need transcendence and mystery and spirituality. We can just, you know, we can turn the Church into a machine that will work with Western culture.” And now the irony is when Western culture begins to unravel, as it kind of is at the moment in COVID, people are looking to the question of purpose, and are like: “What’s going on? And who are we? And are we made for more than just producing and working?” Because we can’t produce and work at the moment, and it just strikes me as ironic, that the Church has this rich history of spiritual practices and meditation and we’re having to re-learn those. And I hope we re-learn them in time to gift them to the culture, to say there is something more than just what you see and feel, all right? 

Danny Cheah: Absolutely, reclaiming that space and just from a—from a history of psychiatry perspective—there was Jung and Freud at a particular point in time, and actually Jung was holding views around transcendence. He studied theology, he studied spirituality across a number of different world religions as well, not just Christianity. And then there was Freud, and the main split off at that point in psychoanalysis or psychotherapy at that stage was this rejection of the spirituality. And Freud sort of “won” in that sense. There are some Jung followers that still practice—still, today, but the predominant—that was when I think things split off, around the time of secularism and the rejection of anything spiritual across the Western world at that time—and I think it’s a parallel rather than necessarily a causal sort of factor between what happened in the Church and what happened in society. Maybe there’s something about—look, I’m not an anthropologist or a philosopher but I think there’s something around how societies have changed and evolved over time and the impact of the  environment and the things that happen around us that perhaps shaped some of these ideas and approaches as well. And currently this situation that we’re in, with the effects of the pandemic, I think is going to cause another massive shift, I think, in terms of how we do church, how we see ourselves as a church, how do we relate to people in this context? And so personally before all this I’ve been on a bit of a journey through this last summer with my pastors around thinking about how do we reclaim this space in mental health, around these things that you’ve just spoken about, Dan. And the first thing that I kind of learn from that is, really, we need to actually put that into practice in my own life. I can’t be imparting spirituality to other people and practicing meditation and rest and all those sort of things if I’m not doing it myself. It’s really important to really be able to impart something that you have, rather than trying to just tell someone about something. So that was my little journey before all this happened, and obviously I don’t want to invalidate this current—the stresses and tragedy that a lot of people are going through at this time, but initially it made it so much easier for me to transition in this space of practicing that rest, noticing the things that are around me, slowing down, looking at my priorities, observing the Sabbath. All those sort of things are so important and fundamental and core to us as Christians, which has been lost through the pressures of modern society, and so this season really allowed me to consolidate some of that and start thinking about how actually I practice—because previously the way I reconciled my faith and my work in mental health was really from a theological perspective around understanding suffering, and how understanding suffering helps me to understand my role in the world, and that helped me to do my job. But it wasn’t necessarily incorporated in my personhood or my—or how I actually work with people. So this is the kind of next stage of my own development, and I’m starting to kind of explore a lot of different ideas. One of the things I’m doing at the moment is re-reading the Gospel of—the Gospels in terms of understanding the life of Jesus and how he lived and walked on earth, rather than seeing the Gospel as just a story that points to the centrality of the Cross, for example. So we have to notice how he lived, how he walked, what he did and then use it as a way to kind of shape how I live, and how I see things. So that’s what I’m doing right now in terms of using this time to look at the life of Jesus in that way, rather than just from a theology of salvation and the centrality of the Cross perhaps.

Daniel Whitehead: Wow, very cool, that’s really cool to hear. I think it’s an interesting thing because when you begin to press into this subject—you’ve talked about things like self-care, and you’ve talked about practicing before you preach, and lived experience—when you’re kind of living in this intersection of faith and mental health and you’re seeing the connection points; it’s making sense. I think you read the Gospels differently, well, that’s what I found. So, suddenly I read the Gospels and things that before I would quickly pass over in the narrative of Jesus’ life suddenly become really significant. And they jump out and you go, “I wonder…” I was, like, I think it’s in Mark 7—I might be wrong so I’m sure people watching this will tell me I’m wrong—I think it’s in Mark 7 and Jesus is in the Decapolis, the region of the, the un-Jewish region, and they basically want to head south towards Galilee, but what they do is they go north. They go a really strange route, they go a really long route to get south, and there’s kind of this biblical mystery, like commentators would say, “We’re not sure why. It could be that Jesus wanted to avoid the crowds; it could be that… who knows? It could be that he wanted to preach in the quieter places first.” Now I read it and I go, “I wonder if Jesus just said to his disciples, “Look guys, we need to take some time-out. We’re going to go the long route. We’re going to go the quiet route. It’s not so we can avoid the crowds, it’s not like we don’t like the crowds; there’ll be time for the crowds, but there’s also time for rest, and there’s time for play, and there’s time for us to get out of the limelight for a minute. And we’re going to meander our way to where we’re going to do the work, but in the meantime we’ve got some other work to do, which is about rest and wellness and self-care.” I never would have read that into the text, and I’m not saying that’s what the text says—don’t anyone tell me I’m adding to the word of God—but I think it’s possible that God in human form would say, “Guys, let’s practice some self-care for a while. We’re going to go the long way to where we need to get to.”

Danny Cheah: And that goes against the grain of what our modern society teaches us around doing the things the shortest way, the most efficient way, the fastest way. We cut down our inefficiencies and things that are—that seemingly are unimportant, you know, prioritising, having a strategy… and a lot of those ideas are actually useful in the ministry, but there’s another whole aspect about how we live as Christians, and sort of like being able to kind of read it from a, from a different lens and a different view, to be able to get a different perspective out of that. Absolutely totally agree with you there, and that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment.

Daniel Whitehead: I’m really interested, Danny, when we look at what’s going on at the moment in the world—fortunately I think I know because I’ve got family in Australia, I know that Australia hasn’t been as affected as many other Western nations, you know, statistically speaking. I’m sure, psychologically, people have been affected watching the news. Similarly, British Columbia—where I live in Canada—has amazingly, by God’s grace and the great work of the people of British Columbia in maintaining distance and things: we haven’t been as affected as other places. But I’m interested to know what you think—and you may not have an answer for this—but what you think we can expect, both as a clinician who works in the mental health field—like what could the church, or indeed society in general, but we can focus on the church—what should the church be preparing for in the next six, twelve, eighteen months coming out of, what we hope will be coming out of a global pandemic that we’re in the middle of at the moment? And what would some of your concerns or advice be to pastors or people in churches on how they can be as ready as they can be?

Danny Cheah: Oh, look, I’m not sure if I’ve got any advice for any pastors in churches. But just speaking from what I’m observing and what I know: Obviously, with any kind of global tragedy we expect that, a lot of the social difficulties, economic difficulties are going to affect mental health because of the social determinants of health. Typically with increased unemployment, we have increased rates of family violence; impact on the mental health of children, which is an area I’m very passionate about; suicide rates tend to go up in these times as well, especially in the period following, not necessarily in the period immediately during a crisis or a disaster. And we’re seeing an increasing number of families in distress, and because there are so many social challenges and difficulties that are kind of falling apart for lots of families, and yes in Australia, things are kind of doing okay. Generally if you look at the data, in comparison to other countries, there are also lots of families who are struggling. People have lost jobs. And also the impact of the isolation as well. So at a smaller local level I guess this is probably about getting to eight weeks into isolation; we’re starting to open up and people are going out a little bit more, and schools are getting back on track. But really I see a fatiguing and deterioration of people’s mental health, especially children’s mental health—being stuck at home, the parents trying their best, I think the first few weeks everyone adapted as best as they could, but I think after two or three weeks we see that kind of fatiguing of the ability to sustain that, so. And then now we’re getting back into perhaps a opening up recovery perspective: there’s also then another change that generates a lot of anxiety right now in terms of the anticipation of what the next stages could look like. And I think what people have started to realise is that there’s going to be a lot more uncertainty than we initially anticipated because there was initially thinking about all of this, and then being in lockdown and then we’ll open up, but actually what’s coming, what’s emerging is really the, the knowledge or the certainty of the uncertain period. How long this is actually going to go on for, and a lot of things that can’t be expected; we can put things in place, but there’s so much that actually we can’t control. 

So perhaps in terms of thinking about the church, I think a lot of churches have been out there, delivering food and resources to people who need it the most. And the church has always been in the forefront of meeting some of the social gaps throughout history: giving clean water, giving medicines, providing education to places where they don’t have that. And I think there’s a lot of that that needs to be done in urban areas as well in terms of some of the social needs. But particularly I think it’s by helping people to join the gap between some of the struggles that they’re seeing in their day-to-day life and actually what the Bible teaches that helps us to live our lives—I think it’s so important that our primary mission is to, to make disciples of all nations and not just make converts. And making disciples involves  showing and teaching people how to live, and so I would think that in the process of the focus on evangelism, for example, that discipleship becomes a huge part of that process and to—because that’s people want the most, people actually want to learn a bit about what, what do we do as Christians that stands out in terms of how we live to deal with these things, such as, you know, putting our trust in God, knowing that God’s mercies are new every morning, being able to learn to lament and be able to appreciate his goodness within our struggle. So all those, you know, we are preaching to the choir here, I guess, but all those things that I think people need to hear more about that helps people to actually put practical applications in their life, but also using a language that people can identify with, who haven’t had a history of say going to church, for example. So I think—I’m not sure where I’m going with this but, really thinking about the area in the mental health space, that that’s a massive need, a massive opportunity, but that’s also where people need help the most, both at a very practical and spiritual and emotional level.

Daniel Whitehead: That’s very good, Danny. And again, going back to my, my theological training and looking at history: it just reminds me of the early church. When I think back to, you know, when the two bubonic plagues ravaged Europe and people were dying in their thousands and thousands, it was the Christians who stayed behind and tended to the sick when no one else would. And many of whom actually—not that I’m advocating this—but many of whom paid with their lives, many of whom laid down their lives to love others. That ultimately shifted a perspective that turned Christianity into this good news message of a faith that wasn’t just an idea or a concept like many religions were of the time; it was something that had hands and feet, that met very real needs in society at a holistic level. It was dressing the wounds of people that were covered in sores that no one would touch. It was feeding the hungry. It was reading Scripture to those who were unable to see. It was these practical messages out-worked, you know, the Scriptures lived out that caused many to turn to Christianity, that ultimately won the Western world to the Christian faith. And so, you know, I guess as horrendous as this time is, which it is and we will only, we can only guess the size of the mental health tsunami that’s coming: I think there is a lot of traumatized people, and people that are going to need a lot of love and care and support. We need to be trauma-informed in how we do that, but there is still strangely this opportunity for the church to step into a space and to love our communities really well. And that’s what I hear you saying, and it’s great to hear a clinician of your standing, you know, working in a mainstream hospital in Melbourne, lecturing and teaching people how to be psychiatrists—it’s just so encouraging to hear you say that, Danny, so thank you for that. That’s a real gift.

Danny Cheah: And it comes from also in my work where people obviously come and see me with quite severe and enduring mental health difficulties, whether it’s for children or for older people, or even the parents struggling with mental health difficulties: we’re seeing a rise in a number of people coming forward with eating disorders, psychosis and obsessive compulsive disorder. I’m not quite sure why, but we’re seeing more people present with these difficulties, and they are—the symptoms that they’re presenting are actually more bizarre and more severe. So we’re seeing a lot more in this, in this recent season. I’ll be interested to kind of understand a lot more about why that might be, or what the meaning or the function of this phenomena is. But in my work day-to-day where I’m seeing people because they’ve tried a number of different things that hasn’t worked out with the first therapist, they’ve tried a second therapist, third psychiatrist, they’ve tried four medications and then they might come and see us because that’s the nature of how our service is set up to be able to help that group. And what I’m finding is that families are not spending time together; they’re not sitting down having a family meal; they’re too busy running around to multiple places. There’s massive economic stress and pressures to try and maintain certain things, so some of the, I guess, foundations of, of family and society are actually missing in those—and that’s, I found myself giving advice to families going through significant mental health difficulties, plus yes, I don’t want to discount the importance of a therapeutic professional work that I’m providing, but I’m also giving people advice about some of these very basic things over and over. And that’s what actually got me passionate about doing these talks with the general public, because I feel like some of those basic messages of keeping connected, looking after your self-care, being able to focus on things like, you know, worry about things you can control rather than things that you can’t, being able to look at the bigger picture, understanding the seasons in life—some of those basic things that I feel are so important, I’m telling patients and families over and over. And so I think this is, this is where the church comes in: because you don’t have to be a mental health professional with lots of degrees and years of training to help people, because there are a lot of things that are missing at a fundamental level. And I think—I’ve been in church for a very long time, I went to Sunday school and grew up in a church context—and, I guess, sometimes I can take it for granted, how easy it is for me to have access to my church family because I moved so many times throughout my life, and having a church family to feel connected to—even going through this pandemic with an immediate church family so I’m not isolated—I guess sometimes we can take it for granted that, that that’s the norm, that actually a lot of people don’t have that opportunity and that connection to be with people who could just love them and care for them without getting something back. So I think I’ve had that privilege of growing up through church in that context, but very mindful that’s not the case for a lot of other people outside church, and that’s perhaps something we can do as a Christian community that makes a difference beyond the message that we’re preaching as well.

Daniel Whitehead: That’s really good, Danny. What I hear when you’re saying that, to kind of maybe conclude this: it seems like what you’re saying is you don’t have to be a qualified clinician to help people on their clinical journey, just as you don’t have to be a theologian to do good theology. Actually, if you learn the rhythms of rest, of relationality, of relationship, the importance of that, of staying connected, of grace and mercy and compassion and love. If you practice, if we learn to practice these things: these are gifts in a world where many people don’t get to experience those things that we just have access to, or many of us have access to who are part of a church. So I love that message, I love the simplicity of that, and I love that, as I said before, here’s a psychiatrist telling us to rest more, to love more, to relate more, and to eat meals together more. This is great, great stuff. Thank you, Danny.

Danny Cheah: Thanks, Dan.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah, really grateful for you and thank you for your time. This has been really, really encouraging. Hey guys, if this has helped you, please share it with other people, please go to our website at sanctuarymentalhealth.org. You’ll find our Sanctuary Course, an eight-week course for small groups, you’ll find our Faith, Grief and COVID-19 resource—a four week course that’s on our website. You’ll find our blog, our podcast—everything’s free, go to sanctuarymentalhealth.org. And yeah, we’ll see you next time. Thanks!

Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries exists to equip the church to be a sanctuary for all people, at all stages of their mental wellness journey, may this podcast encourage you to create safe space for your own story, and the stories of others as well as create change in communities that stigmatize those suffering with mental health challenges. 

The Sanctuary Course 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, perhaps most importantly through the simple act of talking openly about mental health, the course helps churches begin to create safe spaces for people to share their mental health stories, and receive support in community. 

Each theme in the course is explored from a psychological, social and theological perspective, and each session is accompanied by a compelling film focussed on an individual story, a person of faith whose journeyed through mental health challenges. 

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