This week is national Mental Health week – 1 in 5 Australians are affected by mental illness annually yet many don’t seek help because of the stigma – whether perceived or real.
The two video stories below are open and transparent stories from leaders in our Union who have struggled with anxiety over a number of years. Their stories are ones of encouragement – that even though they still struggle, God has and will continue to heal and bring peace to their situations, overcoming the painful battle that once was hard to bear.
Rev Geoff Shepherd says, “Mental Health is not just a mental or a physical or a human journey – it’s a spiritual journey as well. So for me faith in Jesus was not just a part of this, but it was central to it… I’m resoundingly, unchangeably confident in what’s coming – and that is that, bit by bit, God is bringing his healing and so its going to get better and better day by day and I’m really enjoying it.”
Larissa says, “I’ve come to understand that I might live with anxiety, but it doesn’t mean I don’t trust God. Even in the midst of anxiety, I know that God is good.”
We thank Larissa and Geoff (and Syndal Baptist Church) for being willing to share their stories – their hope is that, in doing this, others will be seek the help they need without fear or shame.
The BUV has had a relationship with Sanctuary Mental Health for a couple of years now – their Sanctuary Course has recently, due to COVID-19, been provided free of charge. The course is an eight-week study guide for small groups, designed to raise awareness and start conversations in local churches regarding mental health.
Each week participants 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.
Over the course of the eight weeks, participants will explore topics such as:
- Understanding mental health and illness
- Challenging stigma
- The recovery journey
- 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.
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.
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