Being invited into private boarding homes gives BHM a unique perspective on mental health in Canada, and we are committed to engaging in the larger discourse on mental health care and spirituality through regular workshops, community consultation, research projects, student placements and education curricula.
Student Placements: BHM offers placements for students of Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto, where they gain frontline experience in inner city and mental health pastoral care. Responsibilities and activities include regularly visiting boarding homes, visiting residents in hospital, participating in memorial services, and writing reflections on their experiences. Past students have described the placement as invaluable to their career, as there are few alternative placements that focus on mental health care in such depth and in the unique setting of boarding homes.
Workshops: Regularly, BHM organizes workshops for volunteers focusing on aspects of the ministry, such as the importance of loving affirmation or tools for being comfortable in praying on the spot. Workshops usually last approximately two hours and include a chance to connect over a shared meal. The gathering also serves as an important opportunity to share experiences with BHM, to discuss how other teams organize their time in the homes, and to feel the encouragement of being around like-minded people.
BHM will be extending invitations to workshops beyond BHM team members to include a wider audience in the discussion of the intersection of mental health and spirituality. In congregations, families, or encounters with strangers we negotiate mental health issues as they arise and in the moment. BHM intends to cultivate a community of learning and reflection, so we might be better equipped to care for those with mental illnesses in our communities.
Writing and Research: BHM recognizes the importance of research in education and has supported or commissioned a number of pieces on mental health and spirituality.