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The Congregational Action and Response for Mental Health (CARe) Ministry Team is dedicated to raising awareness about the need for good mental health in congregations.  Mental health issues affect many persons and the church has a role to play in responding to persons with mental illness and their supporters.   One in five people in the Canadian population (including our congregations) will experience a mental health challenge in any one year.  One in three will have experience with a mental health challenge over their lifetime.  The Synod CARe Ministry Team wants congregations to be aware of the prevalence of challenges to good mental health.  CARe also wants to equip them to respond to those developing mental illness, and those in crisis.

The CARe Ministry Team is therefore pleased to announce that they will offer up to 3, $100 scholarships per congregation in the ABT Synod so that each of our congregations can send an individual or team (lay or rostered) to train with Mental Health First Aid Canada. This course originated in Australia, and is also taught in the United States.  In Canada, Mental Health First Aid is a program of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Congregations can decide how to select such persons they wish to send for training. This is not just for congregations who are aware of people within their communities or congregations experiencing mental illness. Mental illness is often “hidden” and stigmatized.  All congregations should consider this opportunity to learn the facts and how to break down the stigma. Our faith community can be a strong means of support.

Over two full days, participants will learn about a variety of mental illness conditions and will be taught how to approach and support someone developing an illness or having a crisis.  Participants will be able to provide initial help and guide a distressed person to appropriate professional and community support.  Mental Health First Aid Canada recognizes that people with mental illness are able to recover a sense of meaning and purpose in life.  Those with mental illness are able to live in a way that is satisfying, hopeful, and contributing to the common good.

Mental Health First Aid Canada courses are offered in many communities in our province and the territories.  Go their website (www.mentalhealthfirstaid.ca) to find the course nearest you.  You may choose whether to take a Basic course, one specifically for northern communities, or for those who work with youth.  Click the instructor’s name for information about course date, time and place, and then contact the instructor directly to ask the price of the course.  Your congregation may be able to provide funding beyond the scholarship if it is necessary. We encourage you to register quickly as these courses fill up fast.

Send your paid receipt from the course to the synod office at 10014 – 81 Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1W8, Attention: CARE MHFA to receive reimbursement of $100 per person to a maximum of 3 persons per congregation. Please indicate your congregation when you send the receipt.

Blessings as you seek to make your congregation more aware, and prepared to take action to support those with mental health challenges.  The CARe tab on the synod website also has many relevant resources to build on your mental health knowledge during the year.