We had a young man named Brandon as a part of Queen Street Baptist Church. Brandon was intelligent and friendly. He also suffered from mental health and addictions. Unfortunately, Brandon died of an overdose a couple of months ago.
Mental health and addictions was already on my radar, both as a pastor and in the context of our own family. Brandon’s death was the push that made do something tangible about this. I just couldn’t let life go on as usual.
With some dreaming and talking together with Amanda, we planned a mental health and addictions workshop at QSBC. We ended up partnering with Start Me Up Niagara on this. This workshop took place yesterday.
The workshop had a broad reach in that it was use to help train people volunteering with Out of the Cold, as well as anyone interested in mental health and addictions.
We had a number of speakers, talking about mental illness and/or addictions, some from personal experience and some from the perspective of a care provider. Amanda was one of the speakers and she did an amazing job.
As I stood at the back of the room listening to the speakers and the conversations among the participants, I was blown away. It was far better than I had ever expected.
We had modest goals. There was no expectation that we would solve all of our community’s problems. But we want to get the conversation going. The church has not always done a good job of dealing with mental illness and addictions, sometimes we have reinforced the stigma rather than breaking it down. But we started in the right direction yesterday.
We addressed the issues, but more than that, we looked at mental health in terms of the real people rather than as just as theoretical topics. We asked questions and wrestled with complex responses. There is so much more to do but I was encouraged with what took place.
I hope to make available some of what took place to those who were not there. I also hope to have something like this again in the future.
Yesterday’s workshop on mental health and addictions gave me hope and encouragement for the future. I’m so thankful to all those who spoke, helped out and came out to listen.
This is my Good News.