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One woman found freedom in talking about mental health

May 30, 2022

Hanna was going through her email recently when she spotted a name she recognized: Focus on the Family Canada. The message announced a new free video series called What to Do When You’re Not Okay, focusing on mental wellness. “It struck me because it hit a point,” she says. “Most of the time, we are not okay. I think it has helped me to be more honest with God and bring him my emotions and stuff.”

Years ago, Hanna was on the phone with a trusted friend discussing a painful, wild time in her life. “They said, ‘What if God just wants you to be honest?’”

That idea resonated with Hanna. She started to come to God and express exactly how she was really feeling, especially when it came to her struggles with mental health. “I go in my room at night and light a candle and just honestly tell God how I’m doing. It could be scared, mad, or hatred. He takes our hatred at the cross and we can give it to him, and our anger. He exchanges that for his peace and his refreshment.”

Because of her experience, Hanna has felt a sense of calling to her ministry. “I am going to be trying to help others express themselves through art, and I feel more equipped to respond to the emotions it will bring up.”

This sense of calling prepared Hanna for her involvement with an art studio program in Winnipeg for people with mental health struggles, which she was part of approximately nine years ago. The program consisted of nine artists who could spend up to 20 hours a week working on their craft. At the end, there was an art show where everyone’s work was displayed.

“There was a lot of healing in that time,” Hanna says of her experience, “especially around the joy of bantering back and forth and relaying our stories with each other. I couldn’t believe that other people had the same fears or the same wild thoughts that I had. It was so healing. There was community around. We would sit in community a few times a week and comment on each other’s art and our inward journeys.”

That’s why Hanna is so thankful to see Focus on the Family Canada produce so many resources about mental health, such as the free booklets on anxiety and depression. “You guys are really stepping into the mental health field in a big way,” she says.

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