A pleasure of my role is dreaming about training opportunities for both our team and our network of mental health professionals in Southern Ontario. And so I was happy when just over a year ago, Generous Space Ministries, formerly New Direction Ministries, approached us to discuss jointly developing a training event.
The community served by Generous Space Ministries had identified that many Christian Mental Health professionals are not familiar with issues related to the LGBTQ community and are tentative in offering clinical services. The hope was to build a day where professionals and community members could learn more about the intersection of LGBTQ and mental health themes. The day would be built around sharing, listening and increasing our understanding of this issue.
This conversation is now being arranged. On September 29, at Meadowvale Community CRC Church, we will be offering a one-day workshop called LGBTQ+, Mental Health and Faith.
The workshop is designed for social workers, psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors, community leaders, educators and pastors, LGBTQ+ individuals, families and support people. Participants can expect a day of dialogue and co-learning with LGBTQ+ individuals and practitioners as they develop a better understanding of the complexity of mental health challenges for LGBTQ+ individuals and exploration of the distinctions between mental illness and orientation/gender realities.
Our hope is that professionals attending will feel better equipped to provide safety and understanding to this group of vulnerable clients. At the same time, we hope that community members attending will feel more equipped to find a therapist, understand their rights, and navigate the mental health system.
There will be many types of presentations and conversation during the day. We will be joined by members of the LGBTQ community, sharing their experiences of mental health and their system of care, as well as some senior therapists from the GTA.
Luis Goncalves, an experienced therapist who has navigated his own LGBTQ+ journey, will give the keynote presentation on LGBTQ+ and Mental Health.
Diane Marshall, Sharon Ramsey and Ken VanWyk will participate in a Practitioners Panel, discussing client rights, finding the right therapist, and navigating mental health resources in Ontario.
An LGBTQ+ Panel, including members of the Generous Space community will be discussing mental health needs during self-discovery and coming out, accessing effective supports, integration of faith, navigating family and faith communities, and the complications of mental illness.
We’re all quite excited about increasing dialogue in these areas, and about the great people involved in these conversations!
We hope you can join us! More information and a registration form are available on our website.
Jennifer Bowen, M.Div., RMFT, is the Clinical Director of Shalem Mental Health Network’s Counselling Services.