The mental health conversation is big; let's start small

Let’s Start Small

Isabel OngBlog, Resources

In a video interview about what a pandemic can teach us about the value of people, Sanctuary Ambassador Rev. John Swinton, PhD talks about how our value and worth are not tied to our work. Instead, he exhorts us to recognize that God loves us for who we are, irrespective of our achievements or failures.

Over the course of the pandemic, we have re-evaluated and re-examined our ways of moving through the world, in our work, our families, our churches, and all other spaces in which we are known and loved. Many of us have also learned about the importance of caring for, and talking about, our mental health and wellbeing.

However, starting conversations about mental health may feel daunting. How do we converse about it in a way that conveys Christ’s compassion and love? How do we open up space for thoughtful reflection while valuing one another—as Rev. Dr. John Swinton points out—as people who are deeply loved by God?

These are the questions that all of us at Sanctuary invite you to explore throughout October for Mental Health Awareness Month, which coincides with Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3 to 9) and World Mental Health Day (October 10). The mental health conversation is big; let’s start small.

Think of us as your guide and conversation partner as we highlight the need to start conversations about mental health and reduce mental health stigma on social media throughout October. Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, use the hashtag #oursanctuarystories to share your story with us, and keep reading for ideas on how you can participate in our campaign from anywhere in the world:

Download the Sanctuary app

Carving out time to talk about mental health amidst a busy schedule may be challenging. One helpful tool to use is a mobile phone app. Easily accessible anytime and anywhere, it offers the opportunity to converse about mental health with others during a meal, a car ride, a hike… you get the idea!

This October, we are thrilled to announce the global launch of the Sanctuary app. The app includes a card game, Together Again,  that encourages conversations about faith, mental health, and wellbeing through a mix of lighthearted and contemplative questions. Download it for Apple iOS or Android.

Pray with us

Prayer is a conversation between us and God, and connecting with God through prayer helps us to be more aware of and attentive toward those who may be experiencing mental health challenges in our midst, as well as our own mental health journey.

Throughout October, we’ll be sharing prayers centered on mental health, written by Sanctuary Ambassador Rev. Dr. Isabelle Hamley, Cole Arthur Riley (@blackliturgies), Cameron Bellm (@cameronbellm), and Strahan Coleman (@commoners_communion). Use them individually or communally, and share them with someone who may need to receive words of hope and comfort.

Hear #oursanctuarystories (and share yours)

Hearing stories about how someone has navigated their mental health journey can be a great source of encouragement as you engage in these conversations.

The Sanctuary team will share personal stories and experiences through a series of prompts on Instagram this month, such as: what were some of the best questions you’ve been asked about your mental health? How did it feel when you talked about your mental health with someone who values you just as you are? We invite you to share your responses to these prompts on our social media channels.

Advocate appropriate language

The language we use when speaking about mental health and wellbeing matters because it contributes toward affirming the inherent value and dignity of all people. Sanctuary strives to use language thoughtfully and graciously, and seeks to equip others to do the same.

Throughout October, we’ll be sharing informative graphics on small yet impactful ways to talk about mental health and reduce stigma perpetuated through language. Help us spread the word by re-sharing them on your own social media channels.

Join our Alongside Monthly Donor Club

alongside monthly donors club

In Luke 24:13-35, we read of two downcast disciples who encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus. This picture of Jesus walking alongside his disciples amidst their grief and sorrow serves as inspiration for our new Alongside Monthly Donor Club.

As a member, you’ll be journeying not only with Sanctuary as we equip the Church to support mental health and wellbeing, but also with the people we are impacting through our resources. No minimum donation is required—just a heartfelt desire to love and care for people experiencing mental health challenges.

Win a book on faith and mental health!

Books and other educational resources on the topic of mental health may also build confidence in starting such conversations. Keep your eyes peeled for an exciting giveaway with the Regent Bookstore on our Instagram (@sanctuarymentalhealth).

Thanks for following along and participating in Mental Health Awareness Month this October! Your support helps in making Sanctuary’s resources accessible to people everywhere. Check out The Sanctuary Course or The Sanctuary Course for Catholics to continue having conversations about faith and mental health and exploring ways to reduce mental health stigma in your faith community.

About the Author

Isabel Ong

Isabel has over ten years of experience in writing, editing, research, and digital marketing. Originally from Singapore, she loves connecting with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds and volunteering as a life group leader at her church. She has a BA (Hons) in English and a Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies from Regent College, and will receive a Master of Arts in Christian Studies in 2022.