How a church can support those with mental health challenges has been being explored at one of our Huddersfield area churches.
St James’ Slaithwaite has been running the Sanctuary Course, which looks to equip churches as they seek to become sanctuaries where people with mental health challenges feel safe, supported, and a sense of belonging.
Designed as a study guide for small groups, the course offers participants the opportunity to redefine their understanding of mental health, learn about various experiences of mental illness, consider the impact of stigma, explore the process of recovery, discover the importance of companionship, reflect on the experience of caregiving, and examine self-care practices.
Each session is accompanied by a film that features the story of a Christian with lived experience of a mental health challenge, along with the insights of church leaders, theologians, and mental health professionals.
Church member Jennifer Smith Wignall became interested in running the course, and after talking with her vicar and other members of the church it became clear there was a strong appetite for it.
Jennifer said: “We are now halfway through the course at St James Slaithwaite, and I'm not going to say it was easy at the start as it was not.
“But I started to enjoy it once my nerves calmed down, and also with a heck of a lot of praying!
“I would encourage anyone to have a go and talk to their vicar about running the Sanctuary Course in their church.
“I’ve had some great feedback, including that the course has made people look at their own mental health and faith, and has been so helpful for that, and that it’s been uplifting & encouraging to know we're not alone in our struggles.”