The Sanctuary Course for Catholics

The Sanctuary Course for Catholics

One in four people will be affected by a mental health problem at some point in their lives, yet the stigma surrounding mental illness silences many and prevents faith communities from responding compassionately and effectively. This eight-session course—designed for use in small groups—explores the realities of mental health and illness, as well as the vital need for faith-based community conversations about these topics. The sessions are accompanied by compelling films that feature the stories of Catholics living with mental health challenges, along with the insights of archbishops, theologians, and psychologists. The course also includes a Leader’s Guide, Participant’s Guide, and additional educational and spiritual resources.

- Eight sessions (available as a coursebook or audiobook)
- Eight films
- Interactive discussion questions and group exercises
- Prayers and reflections
- Comprehensive leader and participant guides
-Available in Spanish on FORMED here.

Learn more about this course and Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries at

More resources related to this course, including transcripts and promotional materials, can be found here.

Warning: This course and films address difficult and sensitive topics, and may not be appropriate for a young audience. Parental guidance is advised.

These films capture the experiences of individuals in their own words; the views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not always represent the views of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, FORMED, or the Augustine Institute.

The Sanctuary Course for Catholics
  • Session 1: Introduction

    "Who feels welcome in your local parish? Are clergy and laity comfortable discussing mental health? Are there resources available for people experiencing mental health problems? In this film you will meet Matthew, who lives with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and primary obsessional OCD. List...

  • Session 2: Mental Health

    "Over the course of our lives, we will all experience periods of flourishing and languishing mental health—a reality that helpfully frames our understanding of mental health, mental illness, and suffering. In this film you will meet Kasey, who lives with anxiety and depression. Listen to her stor...

  • Session 3: Mental Illness

    Have you ever wondered whether poor mental health is a sign of weak faith, or wanted to hear the Church’s position on medication? In this film you will meet Hillary, who lives with depression and has experienced postpartum depression—a serious mood disorder that can occur during or after pregnanc...

  • Session 4: Stigma

    Stigma is often misunderstood or neglected in discussions about mental health, yet a majority of those living with mental health problems report experiencing it in one form or another. In this film you will meet Simone, who lives with schizophrenia—a complex biochemical brain disorder that can im...

  • Session 5: Recovery

    In our parishes, practices such as praying for the sick and holding healing Masses serve as a reflection of the belief that God can bring about physical restoration. In addition, the sacrament of Anointing the Sick also mediates healing. However, for many people living with mental health problems...

  • Session 6: Companionship

    You don’t need to be a counselor or a psychologist in order to support and accompany those living with mental health problems. In this film you will meet Lisa, who lives with bipolar 2 disorder and has experienced episodes of psychosis—a temporary loss of contact with reality due to hallucination...

  • Session 7: Self-Care

    Christ has called us to lay down our lives for one another. How should we understand this call in light of the demonstrable need for self-care? In this film you will meet Katrina, who lives with bipolar 2 disorder. She shares about the important role that self-care plays in her recovery, while ou...

  • Session 8: The Church

    In this film you will meet Brian, who has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—a disorder triggered by the experience of trauma and characterized by unwanted memories and flashbacks, heightened physical or emotional reactions, and negative changes in mood. Listen to his story, and ex...

  • Sanctuary Coursebook

    3.86 MB

  • Sanctuary Participant Guide

    81.1 KB

  • Sanctuary Leader Guide

    123 KB

  • Sanctuary Audiobook

    398 MB