The Southdown Institute has a long history of helping the clergy of the Archdiocese of Toronto. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the institute is using the internet to reach out to the Catholic laity who are experiencing mental health and spiritual challenges.
Sr. Susan Davy, Communications and Outreach Officer at The Southdown Institute, explains how the organization hopes to help the people in the pews.
1. For those who have never heard of The Southdown Institute before, what do they need to know about your organization?
The Southdown Institute is an independent, accredited health care organization that has operated in the Greater Toronto Area since 1966. We have many programs and services, including: a 14-week residential program for clergy and vowed religious; clinical and candidate assessments; outpatient services; education; leadership consultation; and outreach.
While our focus continues to be the provision of mental health services to clergy and vowed religious (and, more recently, lay pastoral ministers), we are also aware that many of the Catholic lay faithful may need our psychological and spiritual support. This is why we have created new online mental health resources, for both ordained and lay alike.
2. Southdown is calling these new resources for the laity, “Community Wellness Services.” What are you hoping to achieve with this new initiative?
Our intention is to reach a greater number of people and help them work through the many pressing psychological and spiritual challenges of our times. The many online psycho-educational and group offerings address issues of grief, stress management, loneliness, isolation, anxiety and spiritual concerns.
This will all be done in a safe, trusting and confidential environment. The online Community Wellness Services is provided through a secure virtual platform.
3. Why do you think this program is especially needed now?
As we continue to navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are aware of the toll these challenging times are taking on all of us. There is a growing sense of fatigue being experienced by many. Under these circumstances, paying attention to our mental and emotional health is of the utmost importance – now more than ever.
Since its foundation, Southdown’s programs and services have evolved to respond to the needs of the present moment. Expanding our mental health services to the online world to reach even more members of the Catholic faith community is in keeping with that tradition.
4. Who can take part in the Community Wellness Services?
The online webinars and small group meetings are available to the Catholic adult population, ordained and lay alike. Interested individuals are encouraged to learn more about each offering and to register for the online webinars by visiting: www.southdown.on.ca.
Select webinars are available in French and Spanish.
5. What are some of the things that you have planned for the early days of the Community Wellness Services?
Community Wellness Services offer an exciting variety of interactive psycho-educational, spirituality and psychotherapy groups, including:
You can learn more about these, and more, upcoming sessions of the Community Wellness Services at The Southdown Institute by clicking here to download a flyer.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are struggling. This is especially true during the pandemic, which has upended our lives in so many ways. If you could use help, please click here to learn more about the Community Wellness Services at The Southdown Institute.