Canadian MK Network

Update: Understanding People Mental Health and Trauma Conference


Understanding People, Mental Health and Trauma

Outreach Canada recently collaborated with twelve mission organisations to run a training event in October and November titled “Understanding People, Mental Health and Trauma”, or UPMHT. This workshop was designed to train those interested in developing skills specifically relating to interaction with communities with high risks or needs. This included those living on the streets, first nations, immigrants, prisoners in transition to the community and those who struggle with mental health challenges.   

The vision for the workshop began over a year ago through the request for specific training on mental health. Our Lord set such a beautiful example of ministry to the needy and broken, and yet when faced with the reality of what needy and broken looks like today, we often respond in fear. This is not always because of a resistance to love like Jesus, but because of a lack of understanding of the complexities that surround a person in need, and a knowledge gap in how specifically to address those needs. The training (UPMHT) was prayerfully constructed to begin to fill that gap, in providing background knowledge and practical skills to approaching communities and individuals in need, especially surrounding mental health.

Two separate training workshops were run: one in British Columbia, and one in Ontario. Both workshops had 42 registrants, including a mix of various mission organisation members and mental health professionals. The women leading the training, Lyn and Kay, both from the US, are experienced professionals in mental health training and have presented similar programs across the globe. The workshops in BC and Ontario covered the following major topics, along with a church leader addendum that provides biblical support for each aspect of the training:

  1. Understanding People,
  2. Understanding Stress—it’s causes and consequences
  3. Healthy Coping and the Healing Process
  4. Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders
  5. Specific Populations and Issues

Much of the course was presented in a group setting, with opportunities for discussion and collaboration among the participants and speakers, through questions, role-playing, and personal sharing. Attendees of the training provided feedback at the end, revealing much appreciation for the models provided and topics covered. A frequent comment was on the simplicity of the course, along with being practical and universal in its application to everyday situations, regardless of the ministry or work one may be involved in. Several attendees also expressed a desire to have their own copies of the training material for the purpose of sharing it with others at a personal or organisational level.

Our desire is for this training to become an on-going opportunity for individuals and organisations alike to learn and grow through professional guidance and peer sharing in addressing this sensitive, yet critical topic of mental health. It is our hope to build and contribute to knowledge of what is involved in understanding and reaching those who struggle with issues relating to mental health through the loving lens of Jesus.