ABOUT THE COURSE
How can a church become a sanctuary—a place where individuals living with mental health challenges feel safe, supported, and a sense of belonging? The Sanctuary Course was created to inspire and equip communities of faith that are asking this important question. Developed in consultation with mental health professionals, theologians, and people with lived experience, this eight-session study guide explores key mental health topics and examines meaningful ways to offer companionship, support recovery, and promote wellbeing.
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 challenges
- People living with mental health challenges
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. This course and films address difficult and sensitive topics, and may not be appropriate for a young audience. It is not recommended for people ages 17 and younger.
The Sanctuary Course is also available in German! You can find The Sanctuary Course (Deutsch) on our resource portal for free.
How do I access it?
You can access The Sanctuary Course for free on our resource portal. Simply create an account or login, then get started exploring the course and our other resources.
What is The Sanctuary Course?
The coursebook defines key terms, presents relevant research, addresses common questions, and explores important concepts from three perspectives: the psychological, the social, and the theological. This reading, done in advance of group meetings, helps participants connect around the session’s topic using a shared framework and language.
The films elevate the voice of lived experience, emphasizing various aspects of the realities of living with mental health challenges. Mental health professionals, theologians, and church leaders contribute insights, helpful biblical integration, and ideas for community support. Participants watch the films together during group meetings. Note that films include content warnings; some participants may choose not to view certain films.
The discussion guides contain questions for your community to ponder together, along with opportunities for deeper reflection through art, poetry, prayers, and spiritual practices. These guides make facilitating The Sanctuary Course simple, as they provide a step-by-step process for group meetings and opportunity to engage more deeply with the content that is most meaningful for each group.
REV. MONICA COLEMAN, PHD, MDIV
MALCOLM GUITE, PHD
ED NG, PHD, R PSYCH
Mental Health Professionals
Pastors and Theologians
People with Lived Experience
In the film below, Rev. Anne Baxter Smith shares about her loved ones who live with mental health challenges and their experiences in the Church. She also discusses the impact that The Sanctuary Course had on her church.
Thank you for providing this course. I think it’s greatest value has been "normalizing" mental health as well as giving participants permission to share their own mental health struggles—things we may never have known about otherwise.
The excellent quality of the course materials made facilitation of the course easy. The videos alone elicited rich discussions amongst our group. Without exception, the participants praised the experience and asked "what next?!"
Our group participants range in age from mid twenties to late sixties, and from students to retirees. Everyone is finding the material relevant and helpful. Small churches like ours often don’t have the financial or personnel resources to offer such high quality programming. Your gift to us is so generous.
I’m loving the range of lived experience that we have been introduced to, the sensitive way that people have been invited to tell their stories, and the way their stories have been framed by information from other sources. I find it really rich, very engaging, meaningful, and I’m going away each week with a spiral of thoughts continuing on, influencing my conversations later in the week, or how I hear those conversations, particularly with people I see in my practice as a massage therapist. It has been a gift.
Sanctuary’s resources integrate theological, psychological, and lived experience perspectives. They are developed with the conviction that informed and empathetic conversations about mental health challenges can transform communities of faith.
HOW DO I BEGIN?
The Sanctuary Course is available for free on our resource portal. Creating an account is simple, and then you can explore the materials of The Sanctuary Course and see how the course can benefit your community.
Getting started with talking about mental health or facilitating The Sanctuary Course in your community can feel intimidating, which is why we designed a Facilitator’s Guide specifically for facilitators of The Sanctuary Course. This PDF can be found in the downloadable materials for the course on our resource portal. We have also created a quick start page for facilitators on our resource portal.