Daniel Whitehead interviewing Ruth Rice on Zoom

Mental Health, Faith & COVID-19 With Ruth Rice

Ruth RicePodcast, Podcast COVID

Mental Health, Faith, and COVID-19 with Ruth Rice from Sanctuary Mental Health on Vimeo.

Episode Description:

Director of UK-based charity Renew Wellbeing, Ruth Rice, talks about the importance of creating virtual spaces for churches and individuals to continue connecting with others during COVID-19. She reflects on how the pandemic has encouraged the Church to re-engage with its primary language of prayer, and shares several resources to help develop daily spiritual habits and rhythms.

Running time: 33:47

Release date: July 10, 2020

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.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Renew Wellbeing

Ruth’s Renew Daily Dose

Slow Down, Show Up and Pray, Ruth Rice

Five Ways to Inner Wellbeing, Ruth Rice

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 

Daniel Whitehead: So hello and welcome to The Sanctuary Podcast. My name is Daniel Whitehead, I am the CEO of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, and during COVID-19 I’m also the host of the podcast. We’re taking the podcast in a slightly different direction in these days, and we’re going to be talking to friends of ours from around the world, to hear about their work, to hear about how they’re coping during COVID-19, and to really focus on their story, and today I’m joined by a really good friend—I’ve known Ruth for a year but it feels like it’s been fifty years. In a good way.

Ruth Rice: Oh good.

Daniel Whitehead: This is Ruth Rice. Ruth is the Director of Renew Wellbeing, which is a UK-based charity that creates these amazing spaces—spaces where it’s okay to not be okay, and it’s a way for the Church to provide a service to the community. And I’ve seen this in action and I think it’s amazing, and if I get my way this—we’ll have Renew Centres all over the world within a few years. So Ruth, thank you for joining us. It’s great to see you.

Ruth Rice: It’s great to be with you by the wonders of technology.

Daniel Whitehead: There you go. Ruth’s had a day of Zoom calls, so I know she’s really excited about this one.

Ruth Rice: Yeah, Dan, you’re just at the beginning of your Zoom nightmare. I’m just ending mine with you. But it’s, yeah, I’m not loving the technology, my COVID-19 experience of technology. But I suppose we have to be grateful for it, because otherwise we wouldn’t be having this chat now would we? So hey.

Daniel Whitehead: Well that’s true—but that’s an interesting point, that’s a really interesting point about just how draining this time is. That we’re being forced to a place where we’re having to communicate in ways that don’t feel natural or comfortable. And I’m thinking of your work particularly, Ruth, where Renew Wellbeing is about. I mean, maybe for a start, tell us a little bit about Renew, just give a brief picture of what Renew is.

Ruth Rice: Okay so, so Renew spaces are wellbeing spaces. They’re like, they look like a café, feel more like a shared front room. Places where it’s okay not to be okay. So you would rock up, bring a hobby, share a hobby, be human together. Any faith and non—no proselytizing—by a local church. But there’d also be—and there also is—prayer space where you can join in rhythms of prayer, where you can spend time with a God that you might not have met yet. They’re for anyone to join in, so we’re finding people really wanting to access the rhythms of prayer. It’s always an option, it’s always there for folk. They’re kept really simple. We’re not praying for people, we’re praying with and alongside people. And they kind of know them, they’re not racist. Nobody’s—there’s no power dynamic with it all. And then the third sort of, the sort of—be present, be prayerful and then be in partnership with mental health services. So we’re encouraging churches to make really good strong partnerships with their local mental health professionals, to say, “Look, when we get out of our depth, we will signpost on—”. So the church can do what the church does best—which is show up, put the kettle on, pray, and not try and do rubbish mental health care on the cheap. So it’s been really lovely and been working really well, and it is about real actual presence. So yeah, where you’re getting to is, oh, how does that work now?

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah. I mean I can’t imagine that’s—having seen the model in action, having been in London, we were doing some filming with Ruth just a few months ago—and yeah seeing this amazing community, just this hub of life, of people from all different backgrounds coming together to find wellbeing together. I’m like, yeah, how is it going? What are you guys doing at the moment?

Ruth Rice: Well it’s gutting isn’t it, because the day we had to advise all our centres we had—we’ve got to fifty-three cafes in two-and-a-half years, so it’s like a real “now” thing that the Church in the UK are responding to, bless them. And saying, “Let’s slow down and show up and pray and do something simpler”. So when we had to say, “Right, I’m afraid we have to shut our doors” because we’re not a kind of service, like service-to-service users, we haven’t taken loads of contact details from people, because all we needed, we say we just need your name, we don’t need your label. But that means we didn’t really have loads of contact details to get in touch with people. And if you think a lot of the people who are coming through our doors are probably the most anxious, most isolated, most vulnerable already. And then, COVID-19 hits, everybody is back into isolation. And if you’ve got your family, or you know your neighbours, then it’s not, you know—it’s hard but it’s not the end of the world is it? You’ve got to hang around your kids a bit more and stuff, get to know your neighbours. But if you’re already isolated, you’re already anxious, this is the worst of times. And people are really struggling, so it’s heartbreaking to have had to shut all fifty-three cafes.

But actually what’s remarkable is, the churches that have engaged with Renew Wellbeing already knew who the isolated and anxious people were in some ways, and would be able to find them, track them down, set up things like Zoom spaces, WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages where people can bring a hobby, share a hobby, just turn up into a virtual space. And prayer has always been key: so pray at the beginning, pray at the end, but give people the option to not come for the beginning or the end if they don’t want the prayer bit. So that’s always got to be that it’s an option. And there’s about twenty-four of our cafes, churches that have gone for that again, but there were hundreds, literally hundreds of people, coming through doors of these spaces, and there’s not just those hundreds who are now isolated—there’s hundreds more people, thousands more people, who are experiencing mental and emotional distress without support. So I think, yeah, you know this is fine, it’s nice to have a chat but we can’t see the whites of each other’s eyes properly. It’s not as good as being present with someone. We often say in our spaces, it doesn’t matter if you’re not chatting, just show up and bring your hobby and sit alongside each other, and you know, somebody might be doing their knitting, someone else is doing a bit of furniture restoration, someone’s doing a jigsaw, and it’s just companionable quiet. You can’t really do that very well in a Zoom space, because it’s weird, we’re trying. People were saying today, you know, they’re doing things like crosswords online, or everybody’s bringing the thing that they’re having a go at, and showing each other. Somebody planted up a load of hanging baskets on Zoom today with their—with the others going, “Oh that’s nice, because I haven’t got any hanging baskets,” but it’s still, it’s trying—but I can’t wait until we can get some doors open again.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah.

Ruth Rice: And I think when we do get our doors open again, there will be—there already was a bit of a tsunami of mental health out there. I don’t imagine the situation that the churches open their doors to will be any better.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah that’s so true. I heard someone recently speaking about—someone who’s based in New York—who said that this time is most reminiscent of 9/11 for them. This traumatic event has happened, and they said that after 9/11 church attendance went up, but so getting people to attend church wasn’t a problem. But what they found was this sort of delayed reaction of trauma, this tsunami of trauma that they had to play catch-up with in the three to five years after it. And I just wonder, you know, we all talk about when things open up again, we probably need to be saying, “Lord willing, if, please, when, things open up again”—I would imagine, I mean I’ve always said, I think every church should have a Renew Wellbeing Centre. Everywhere, everyone, every church should be a Renew Wellbeing Centre. After this, if we get out of this, Lord willing, every church should have a Renew Wellbeing Centre, because the whole community just needs a space like this, to be seen and heard and connected with.

Ruth Rice: Yeah, and also to pray. I think in some ways it’s caught the church on the hop a bit. If all that the church was doing was going to church, and all that we were doing was, you know, sort of having services and meeting—I’m not saying that was all the church was doing, but for some churches the gathering on a Sunday has become far too important, and there were no rhythms and habits of prayer that join us anyway whether we are joined or not. So what we’ve been saying—in fact this has been coming because it came out on my own journey with my own mental ill-health—and those of us who’ve got lived experience knew that these rhythms and habits of quiet contemplative prayer, join us even when we can’t face each other. And so weirdly for the churches that had engaged with the rhythms of prayer—we don’t have to be disconnected. We pray, you know, a Psalm in the morning, Lord’s Prayer at lunchtime, Examen at the end of the day, whether we’re together or not. And yes we miss each other, but we don’t make community. God makes community, we just participate in it.

So I think coming out the other side, I think there’s been a massive—I don’t know about where you are—but here there’s been a massive increase in interest in prayer. So lots of people reporting that they are praying, because, yeah, they were facing stuff that’s fearful. And I think people are having a go at things they haven’t had a go at before. So I really am, I’m hating this time, but I’m also excited for the fact that the Church might re-engage with its language, its primary language of prayer. And it might realize that actually society around us has not been asking for us to hand them a bag of wellbeing. They’ve been asking for us to live prophetically as people who’ve got a bigger Story and who invite others into that bigger Story. So if we get a chance to say yeah this is how we pray, and this is the difference it makes, come and join us… we do it on the high street, you know, that sort of new monasticism again? Isn’t it really that kind of: come into these rhythms with us because we too are not okay, none of us are okay now, we know we’re not. So the bigger story of a God who holds us is absolutely key right now, so I think, you know, those of us who discovered that, like I did during a bout of mental ill-health know that when God is all you’ve got, you discover him in a whole new way. And for some people whose life—the rug has literally been pulled out from under them, knowing that there’s a God who is, is timeless and ageless and bigger, and still loving and still kind, and able to cope with lament, as well as praise, and I think that’s another place where the church will come into its own, is saying we’ve got, we can do lament, God can cope with that, we can weep with those who weep, and we can put words around things being rubbish. We don’t have to be relentlessly positive to be a Christian, so.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah. It’s so true, I know that, because I know you, Ruth, I know that when you founded Renew, it was really founded out of your own journey. You yourself had experienced burnout, and, you know, mental health challenges, that caused you to kind of go, “What kind of space do I need to feel well?” And so you created a Renew space, and I think you would say you kind of stumbled across this model, and you went, “Ah, everyone should have a space like this.” And so now we’ve got fifty-three churches, and I’m guessing hundreds more waiting to, to open centres. I’m just wondering: in light of that story, your own story of experiencing that brokenness and finding a place of wellbeing, how are you doing? Like how are you doing right now?

Ruth Rice: Personally, it’s a really good question because I’m, I’m a weird kind of person in that I’m a kind of extrovert that extroverts out of introversion. Do you know what I mean? Like I need time away with God so that I can then spend time with people. And I actually find now with my time with God, I really love spending time, I’m deeply contemplative, I really love… so weirdly I’m not at all worried by time on my own, our kids have all left home. Mark and I, I’ve got my husband here, you know, we’ve got a little dog, nice garden, I feel really grateful for all that. Good neighbours, so I do coffee in the morning at the front with the neighbours, and a glass of wine at the back, or a nice cup of tea with my other neighbour. But I’m missing that extroversion, that extroverting of what I’m experiencing, because I only know what I’m thinking when I say it out loud. I’m spending so long on these Zoom meetings, where in some ways I’m going over and over the same ground—I mean, it’s a good thing because churches are asking, “How can we do this simple thing that you were talking about?”

So I was on a call yesterday where there was sixty-five people from churches in the south-west of England, all coming to find out how to set up, to get the first line of the training, for how to set up Renew. So it’s great for me personally because this is where my heart is—but I just miss people, Dan. I miss, I miss other people like in real life. You know that when I set this up, it was, yes, it was for me personally, and then I wanted it to be personal with every church we work with. I wanted people to feel they joined a family, and I would travel thousands of miles in a week to go, “This is personal. Show us what your starting point is and we’ll help you to get the three principles in place. It’s not a program, it’s not plug in and play, this is personal for me. This is about God drawing—I often say we’re like a bridesmaid to the bride, you know, this is about the bride of Christ shining. So to lose that personal contact, and go, “Oh goody we can put all our training online,” it didn’t thrill me because, I just I suppose that’s why I’m struggling with how do I lead as a relational leader, when all I’ve got is Zoom? And yet at the same time we’re having the most amazing conversations nationally here in the UK. Every Tuesday—two Zoom meetings every Tuesday—different leaders from different churches who want to get engaged with wellbeing, getting together, sharing what’s working and what isn’t… I mean I wouldn’t be able to do that if I travelled. So for me I think there’s a sense of loss. It’s almost like a grieving for the season that I loved, where I could just whizz around in my little car and have a wonderful time, and meet new friends and share what was good, and be honest. I’m not some sort of expert, I’m not some sort of guru in wellbeing, I’m a broken person who knows how to look after herself and wants to share it. And I think that, that’s lost in the screen thing because it’s hard to be dead honest in a screen. You can put your Zoom face on. So I’m missing, I’m feeling the loss of what was, but at the same time trying to embrace what now is the new normal, because I don’t think I’ll go back to that. I don’t think there’s any leading of a national charity from racing around the country. I think this is a better way to do it, and that makes me quite cross, really, because I don’t want this to be a better way. So also it’s a rollercoaster, Dan, I have some mornings I wake up I am, “Oh just such a beautiful day, I’m glad I’m alive, my kids are okay,” you know—I’ve had a call from a friend this morning, his mum’s just died and it sends your heart into plummeting sorrow for them, and then you’re back up again because you see the beautiful flowers, and then you’re back down again because you watch the daily briefing and you hear about all these deaths. So I just think as a person who cares, and a person who struggles with their mental and emotional health, it’s like this. There’s no solid, the solid ground of God’s presence is enough for me, but I do miss the other stuff.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah. I think that’s one of the, one of the things I’m hearing is so common is that essentially a time like this, a crisis like this is causing us to really, without even intentionally doing it, pressing into like, well, “Who am I, and what am I, and whose am I?” And I think many people are finding—what I’m hearing is—finding a great amount of peace in, in pressing into God, because there’s kind of nowhere else to go at the moment. You’re saying people are turning to prayer and practices, spiritual practices, but in the same token, yeah, I totally relate to that feeling of loss, and grief of—I just want to be like, free again. Like even if I don’t, even if I don’t connect with people or go out, I just want to have the ability to do that. So that stripping away that loss is something hard to contend with. And it’s interesting because Sanctuary is actually just about to launch, or by the time this airs, we will have launched a resource on grief, which is like a four-part group discussion guide on how do we process grief at the moment? Because I think we’re all grieving aren’t we? We’ve all lost something, and many people have actually lost loved ones, whether directly to COVID, or they’ve lost loved ones and now they’re unable to have a funeral.

Ruth Rice: Yeah absolutely, or they weren’t with them when they died. And I think that sense of, yeah, I think you’re right. Loss and grief, if we’re not feeling it, then we’ve switched off some feelings somewhere. You can’t have a daily briefing—I don’t know whether you’re getting that stuff—but a daily briefing with death numbers into your home: I mean that’s happening every day anyway. 1,400 people die a day in the UK anyway. We don’t have those numbers broadcast into our front rooms, and maybe we should because it gives us that sense of life or death that is more realistic. So in some ways, I suppose when I wasn’t well for a year, about twelve years ago, I lost my voice as well, and it was a very lonely and very low year. But in some ways I met with myself in the emptiness, and I met with God in the emptiness, that stood me in good stead for this, because I’m not, I haven’t got loads of questions about who I am and stuff, I think I worked out, I worked that out twelve years ago. And my daily habits hold me in that place of knowing. The only thing important about me is that God holds me, and the only thing that’s good for me is practising his presence. So I’m not missing, you know, status or my job or all that stuff. I just, I just like, I think I find joy in little things like meals with friends, and walking up the mountains, going to the seaside, seeing my family, hugging my kids, you know, I miss those things, and those bring me closer to the presence of God, so interestingly for me because I encourage people to take time to sit quietly, to be still and know that he is God, it’s almost like I’m beginning to appreciate how people say, well I don’t experience God that way, I experience him whilst I’m walking on the beach or, I think, “Oh yeah the flavours are missing if you just sit still in a chair,” which I do a lot of the day. And it is actually the colours and the flavours of the presence of God that he is present in all of those other things. And as some of those other things get stripped away, it makes everything a bit grey, do you know what I’m saying? It’s like it’s a bit, it’s not yeah, it’s that God can shine through anything anyway, but I think he shines through everything, you know. We’ve learnt to look for his love and his beauty through our habits in our Renew Centres. We ask ourselves, “In what have we seen the love and beauty of God?” There’s just less to look at, there’s less to look at! So it takes some dynamics of his, you know, we’re relational people aren’t we, we’re made in the image of a God who is relational. So the relationships we miss, the hugging and the, and the touching of our you know our friends’ faces—I miss that stuff. I’m in amongst the lucky ones to have somebody to be locked down with who I love. And I know it’s harder for people who are on their own, but I still think for any of us who are human, the loss is real and we have to acknowledge it I think, otherwise we learn nothing from it. And like the Pope, the Pope did a beautiful prayer didn’t he, and it was lovely and it was this prayer about one day we will, and one day we will, and we should look forward to that day, when we hold hands and when we, we sit in a café in the open air, and when we—you know, we should look forward to the day when we sunbathe in the park, let’s remember this isn’t normal.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah, absolutely. I mean that celebration that, you know, that day when, you know when we can return to some semblance of normality, I mean there has to be a global party of, you know, probably not since VE Day will there be such a, such an amazing party I hope, I really hope that.

Ruth Rice: But I wonder though Dan, don’t you, because I don’t think there’s, I think there’s going to be a foggy area, for here anyway, you know. Like you can go out but you still must socially distance—these are horrible phrases aren’t they? “Socially distanced”: it’s awful. And to know that there’ll be fear there, that this could come back, that people—I don’t think we’ll skip back into this and start hugging each other in the streets, I think there will be fear, and there’ll be caution, and there’ll be distance, and there’ll be isolation. And the reality is the church needs to work out how to find somewhere safe—we’ve been thinking about using green spaces more, so we might not get to use our buildings for a while. That’s not a bad thing, because the church is out of the building, let’s never get back in again. But the green spaces, saying we could pray here, we could share hobbies here, there might only be ten people allowed to gather or something like that, you know. So we’re trying to think, let’s have interim thinking, not lockdown not lockdown. There’s this way of edging our way into, into our relationships. It’ll be weird to be able to just walk up and be closer than two metres to somebody again to be honest, and I think, I don’t think people will whizz straight back into it sadly, I think it’ll take a while.

Daniel Whitehead: So, Ruth, tell us a bit about some of the things you’ve done with Renew in this time, because before it was very much sort of in-person training, set up a centre in person—what have you done? How have you moved what you do into a sort of COVID world?

Ruth Rice: Well, so day one, in fact day one before we were even in lockdown, so that was six weeks ago, I’d started doing a “Daily Dose”. So I do a ten-minute, five-minute video; just the five ways to wellbeing, connecting, learning, getting active, taking notes and giving. We take a way to wellbeing each week and I just share one of my habits and do a little prayer, and people are watching that on Vimeo, that’s going down quite well, we’re sharing that.

Daniel Whitehead: And that’s on social media, on Renew Wellbeing, on Facebook or…?

Ruth Rice: Yeah, that’s on our website, and that’s on Facebook and you can get to that through Ruth Rice on Facebook and then you get into the Renew Wellbeing page. Or on Vimeo it’s called “Ruth’s Renew Daily Dose”, and that’s, I think I did thirty, I’m on thirty-five or something there is now so. And we’re not running out of things, we’re sharing with each other how we’re helping, so it’s become a kind of way of sharing ideas. And then what we’ve also done is put our training online, so what was a, used to be a visit from me, and then a training session for two hours, is now a live webinar that you join in with, or you can just help yourself to a recording of that webinar from our website, so www.renewwellbeing.org.uk—you just help yourself to the introduction to Renew Wellbeing. And if you like what you see, you then get in touch with us and we send you the password for the, the password protected bit of the website, the resources, and you help yourself to the next three sessions. Be present, be prayerful, be in partnership. So I’ve done a little video and a little worksheet—I was a teacher—worksheets for each of those sessions. And church teams can do that themselves, because church teams are trying to prepare themselves in lockdown for what they’ll do coming out. And when you get to the end of those three sessions of training, then you can be connected with a local person, a local link, who will help you to decide what to do next. There’s still a personal contact, and what’s lovely is, we’ve kind of gathered quite a lot of national teams during Zoom calls, so I’ve just commissioned four more team members. They’re volunteers at the moment, but we’ll look for funding to take them on. So one for the South, one for the North, one for the West and one whose doing children, youth and families, and that’s delightful because it means what was just my job is now spread out across a wider team. So the things that are happening in lockdown are not delightful, as in they’re not setting up more Renew Centres, but I think our infrastructure as a charity is healthier now than it was before. And that’s happened—the other thing is—I’m working on my book which is coming out in January, and it’s called Slow Down, Show Up And Pray, and that will be the story of Renew Wellbeing. And then the training you can help yourself to that on Amazon. And there’s an eBook coming out in two weeks’ time with all the rhythms of prayer in it, so it’ll help people who want to go, “We need to get praying,” and it’s called Five Ways To Inner Wellbeing. And that comes out in a couple of weeks on Amazon, so that’s—it’s about resourcing the church, and saying, “I’m not holding back any longer.” You know me, Dan, I was like, “Oh I don’t really know, you know have I got anything, I don’t know who I am.” And do you know what, it’s time. The church needs resourcing like never before. I’m chucking The Sanctuary Ministries Course at everybody I speak to because it’s brilliant, it’s great, and churches have got some time now to think, “What are we going to do, not only about the mental health of our communities, but our own mental and emotional wellbeing coming out of this time?” Nothing will ever be the same, so in a good way we must embrace habits of wellbeing that will cause this sort of shalom, this deeper shalom from within us, to have a bit of room to grow, and why would the church not be in the frame for that, so.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah amen.

Ruth Rice: That’s what we’ve been up to.

Daniel Whitehead: Amen, that’s wonderful. So the books that Ruth mentioned: the eBook will be available in the next couple of weeks on Amazon. The book that will come out in January will be a published book, so it’ll presumably have an eBook and it will be a hardcopy that again you could buy on Amazon.

Ruth Rice: Yeah.

Daniel Whitehead: Renewwellbeing.org.uk is the website. Ruth, I’m guessing that in putting all these models in place, anyone anywhere could start a Renew Centre.

Ruth Rice: Yeah, hey yeah, that’s scary right, you can help yourself. It’ll be a bit, I’m a bit northern English, so if you don’t cope with me talking a bit northern, you might have to translate it into whatever dialect you like. But the principles of being present, being prayerful and being in partnership, they would work anywhere. Your partnership with mental health services is going to be the thing that’s more different where you are, but you work that out locally, but yeah, help yourselves, it’s all free at the moment.

Daniel Whitehead: So what’s really interesting for me, Ruth, as I bring this into land, we I mean we could talk for hours, but what’s really interesting for me is: Sanctuary made the decision, October 2018 we made the decision to move into a more online model, and that was all about need and scalability. It was just, there is a greater need than we can meet, so we have to find a new way of being. Now, given what’s happened in the world, not that we foresaw what would happen, that’s kind of been timely, that we felt more ready. And even then it actually still has been challenging to think, “Ok how do people facilitate groups online?” So we’ve had to do a lot of quick re-thinking about how we frame this. And I know that you and I have been having conversations since the day we met in January 2019 about how do we—and my question to you was, what you’re doing is amazing. How do we scale it up? How do we get it into the hands of everyone? And it feels like you’ve been wrestling with that, not necessarily because of me, but you’ve been wrestling with that, and you’ve brought it to a place where that can happen. And for me that’s just so exciting, because I know that there’s a tremendous need for it now.

Ruth Rice: Dan, you know, you know that I fought you tooth and nail on that. You challenged me and I didn’t like it because I like doing the personal contact, and yeah, thank you for saying that, but actually I have no choice now. I’m not saying God did this, don’t hear that wrong by any stretch of the imagination, but he will use every situation to bring about something that will be about shalom. And I think, I don’t know if I would ever have embraced this way of working if I hadn’t had to. However, you know, church after church are saying to me, “Oh it’s much better now we know we can hold of you, we know where you are.” Oh yeah, well I’ll stay there. And also that we can start giving this away better, so thank you for the challenge Dan. No, seriously, thank you—and also the partnering across borders, across boundaries, across, you know, countries, this is a global pandemic and we have a global God, I mean more than global, and so our understanding of him will only be enriched by sharing experience of how we are addressing the wellbeing crisis. So I look forward to more working together really. It’s going to be good.

Daniel Whitehead: Oh yeah, yeah amen. Ao in case it wasn’t obvious Renew Wellbeing is a partner of Sanctuary’s. We work together. Renew promotes our resources in their churches, and now we can get their resources into the hands of other people. We will be promoting their resources to other people, so go to renewwellbeing.org.uk look up these models, the books, the tools, “Ruth’s Daily Dose” is also on social media. And, you know, if this has been helpful to you share it with someone, go to sanctuarymentalhealth.org and look up our resources. The grief resource will be live by the time that this airs, so look up the grief resource, look up The Sanctuary Course, all our resources are free. So yeah, Ruth, thank you so much for being with us.

Ruth Rice: Oh, and can I just say your podcasts are amazing. I am loving them, like loving them. If people aren’t getting the podcast from Sanctuary Ministries, you need to. They are really good. Not just saying it because I’m on one now, but the other ones [are] really, really good, yeah really good. And the Course: I don’t think there’s anything quite like The Sanctuary Course out there. And UK churches are saying the same—they’re really loving it—so we’re grateful for your gift to us of The Sanctuary Course during this difficult time, and I’m hoping loads of churches are taking up the offer that you’re giving to have this eight-week online course. It’s great.

Daniel Whitehead: Thanks Ruth, yeah God bless you, good to see you and I look forward to the day when I can see you in person, and maybe give you a hug.

Ruth Rice: Oh yeah, a hug. Hugs were nice, I liked hugs.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah, remember those.

Ruth Rice: I remember that. Anyway lots of blessings to you over there, and yeah one day this too will end.

Daniel Whitehead: Thanks Ruth, yeah bless you, thanks for your time.

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. 

This podcast is released under creative commons attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives 4.0 license. Don’t change it or sell it but please share it all you like.