THE SANCTUARY COURSE

about the course

Who should participate in this course?

The Sanctuary Course is a study guide for small groups, designed to raise awareness and start conversations in local churches regarding mental health. Your group might include:

  • 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. The course is designed to be run by small-group leaders in your church or organization. With a free subscription, the course is available for you and your church community for life.

For more information on how the course is designed to run, please see our FAQ page.

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 a 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.

UPDATE: COVID-19 RESPONSE

Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries recognizes the need for access to online mental health resources in this season. We also recognize the need for community and relational support during anxious times. This course is intended for use in small groups, and so now more than ever we ask that you gather online with friends or your church community to engage with the material together.

We have also created an additional session for the course to address the unique need for mental health awareness and education in this season. This session may be completed before you begin the first session of The Sanctuary Course, after you finish the last session of The Sanctuary Course, or as a stand-alone discussion guide. The session is freely available as part of The Sanctuary Course materials.

COURSE STRUCTURE

Mental Health Courses - Eight Topics

EIGHT TOPICS

You will explore the opportunity for Christian engagement in the mental health conversation, expand your understanding of mental health, examine the realities of mental illness, consider the effects of stigma, define the principles and processes of recovery, reflect on the importance of companionship, learn about self-care, and discuss ways that your community can support mental health.

Mental Health Courses - Discussion

DISCUSSION

Each session includes several discussion questions designed to help you and your group engage interactively with the content and process the reading. There are also opportunities for you to
reflect more personally on the topics through suggested spiritual practices and prayer.

Mental Health Courses - Films

FILMS

Each session includes a short film where people of faith share personal stories about mental health and mental illness.
Mental Health Courses - Group Guidelines

GROUP GUIDELINES

The Sanctuary Course comes with carefully thought-out group guidelines. These guidelines are designed to help create an atmosphere of safety and respect in your group. 

Mental Health Courses Sample Session

SAMPLE SESSION

Want to know what a typical small-group session looks like? Sign up for our email list to download a sample and experience the integration of faith and psychology for yourself!

Session 4 examines the effects of stigma on individuals with mental health problems, identifies the social and cultural processes that produce stigma, and looks at the response to stigma contained in the gospel.

The film accompanying Session 4 shares the story of April, who lives with bipolar disorder.

CONTRIBUTORS

Hillary McBride
Registered Clinical Counsellor and contributor on The Liturgists Podcast
Professor John Swinton
University of Aberdeen
Professor Ross Hastings
Regent College
Lee Kosa
Lead Pastor, Cedar Park Church
Sue Nickel
Nurse, counsellor, author of Be Held
Darrell Johnson
Pastor, author, teaching fellow at Regent College
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  • Hillary McBride – Registered Clinical Counsellor and contributor on The Liturgists Podcast
  • Professor John Swinton – University of Aberdeen
  • Professor Ross Hastings  – Regent College
  • Pastor Lee Kosa, MDiv – Lead Pastor, Cedar Park Church
  • Sue Nickel – Nurse, Counsellor, author of Be Held
  • Darrell Johnson – Pastor, author, teaching fellow at Regent College

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The Sanctuary Course is free; all you need to do is subscribe. The course is then accessible for life.

We have implemented a new, user-based access model for The Sanctuary Course that allows individuals to create free accounts and access resources through their accounts. When you subscribe to a resource for the first time, you will receive an email with instructions on how to set up an account and password, as well as how to use the new site. 

If you or your church would like to support the work of Sanctuary, we would be grateful for you to recommend The Sanctuary Course to your friends and family, sign up for our e-mail list, or make a donation.

All the materials necessary for running the course are available after subscribing.