ComUUnities & Mental Health Matters

Saturday, November 6, 9:30 am- 2pm  PT | 10:30 am – 3 pm MT | 11:30 am – 4:00 pm  CT /12:30 – 5:00 pm ET/ 1:30 – 6:00 pm AT

In this workshop, we welcome people to consider that mental health, as does physical health, lies on a continuum from health to issues requiring professional attention. We know that approximately 20% of Canadians will experience a mental health-related challenge in their lifetime. People in our congregations can be directly and indirectly, through their relationships, affected by mental health struggles. How can we provide a supportive and welcoming community while also respecting appropriate and respectful boundaries in our congregational roles?

Workshops and Program Outline (all times are in ET) 

Opening Welcome & Worship – 12:30 pm (15 Min) 

Keynote Session – 12:45 – 2:15 pm  “ComUUnities & Mental Health Matters”
Many times throughout the Global Pandemic there have been discussions around mental health, and the links between isolation and mental health. Rev. Danielle will talk about the spectrum of mental health that each individual can locate themselves on, how this continuum might come up in congregational life, and how spiritual life can be a significant piece of our mental health resilience. 

Rev. Danielle Webber (she/they) is a third-generation Canadian Unitarian Universalist living, serving and celebrating life on the traditional and unceded territory of the Okanagan/Sylix people (Kelowna, BC). She has both professional and lived experience of the Mental Health field, having her first degree in psychology, and being diagnosed with Bi-Polar Depression Disorder at the age of 19. Danielle has volunteered with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna, participating as both a Peer Mentor, and as a co-facilitator and co-developer of many of their Discovery College curricula.

Break 2:15 – 2:45 pm

Concurrent Sessions (choose one) 2:45 – 4:15 pm (90 minutes) 

Suicide Beyond Shame: Moving from Stigma to Social Justice in our UU Communities.  Catherine McCormack & Casey Stainsby
It can be difficult to know where to start when approaching the topic of suicide. Layers of shame and stigma hide the reality that most of us have been touched by suicide in some way, whether we ourselves have had thoughts or attempts, or we know others who have dealt with such and perhaps have even ended their own lives. In this interactive workshop we will explore what suicide is and what it is not, situate it as a social justice issue, and provide tools and resources for congregational leaders and community members to start to shift the culture to be more proactively supportive and effectively responsive to the presence of suicide among us.

Although this workshop is designed to be interactive, attendees are welcome to engage in ways that feel safe for them. Observing is a valid form of participation. Please note this group is not intended to be therapeutic; please be mindful of others and keep personal disclosures around suicide and trauma brief. Pastoral care will be available throughout the day if you are in need of support or resources. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about the above and we will be happy to discuss ways to make this a safer space for you and others.

Facilitator Bios:
Catherine McCormack (she/her, M.S.W, R.S.W), from Halifax Nova Scotia, is a social worker, activist, singer, and cat lover (in no particular order). Catherine’s work is shaped by her own experience with mental illness and observations of suicide and trauma in her communities. For over 10 years she has provided counselling, advocacy, and front line interventions for those who have experienced chronic homelessness, addiction, complex trauma, and poverty including 2SLGBTQAI+ communities, street-involved youth, refugees, and domestic violence survivors. Catherine strives to practice using an anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and critical (dis)ability lens. She strongly believes in the power of peer and community support, and encourages folks to make these cornerstones of their individual and mutual healing journeys.

Casey Stainsby (she/her) is the CUC’s Youth and Youth Adult Program and Events Coordinator, bringing over 15 years experience being a part of and working with youth and young adult communities to this role. She is deeply aware of how young people’s mental health is connected to the state of our culture and climate. Casey holds a BFA from Concordia University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity at the Vancouver School of Theology. She lives and works on the traditional homelands of the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, also known as Victoria, BC, and is a member of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria.

Welcoming Practices – Rev. Danielle Webber
Building upon the keynote address, Rev. Danielle will guide participants into deeper planning regarding resources and concrete steps for groups and congregations to implement Mental Health welcoming ideas explored.

Facilitator Bio: (see Rev Danielle Webber’s bio under the keynote above)

Healthy Helping – Rev. Linda Goonewardene
When members of communities encounter someone who needs support as they navigate Mental Health challenges it can be hard to know what is likely to be most useful.  Sometimes the person having issues has a difficult time knowing how to access help in appropriate ways and measures.  A UU community can help, but it is useful for the members who are offering support to know how to set healthy boundaries and limits.  Members are friends and are not usually mental health professionals, so there are limits to the support they can offer.  

Facilitator Bio:
Rev. Linda Goonewardene is a graduate of Drew Theological Seminary.  Since 2013 she has worked as a counsellor at Rideauwood Addiction & Family Services in Ottawa. Linda is a member of the UU Ministers Association and is an Affiliated Community Minister at the First Unitarian Congregation in Ottawa.


Break 4:15 – 4:30 pm

Closing: Next Steps & Worship  4:30 – 5:00 pm

Next Steps 5:00 pm [10 minutes]
Encouragement to complete evaluation – which will include an invitation to identify related training needs.

Worship: Circle Sharing Round: Impact of Sessions 5:10 pm

Sliding fee scale – $25-$40-$65, with an option to pay what you can

Registration – Deadline October 31 at midnight PT

Unpublished form