It was a hard year – plagued by medical issues and a death in the family – that impelled Albury couple Paul and Margie Sheely to focus on their mental wellbeing.
“We were at a conference where Keith and Sarah Condie were talking about Press On, and I said, ‘That might be worthwhile to try’,” said Paul, who is a minister at a Presbyterian church in Albury. His wife Margie has been working in aged care.
Juggling ministry, work and family life meant they sometimes had to be creative about when and where they did their weekly sessions (even slotting one into a long car trip), but they found Press On – an online Christian mental health course – gave them the opportunity to dig deep into a range of issues impacting their emotional and spiritual states.
“I found it to be very helpful, both at the time and ongoing, in giving me strategies to implement in my week that are helpful for managing stress,”
“I found it to be very helpful, both at the time and ongoing, in giving me strategies to implement in my week that are helpful for managing stress,” said Margie, who said that she felt particularly encouraged to set boundaries on her volunteer work, and prioritise important friendships as a “precious gift from God”.
Paul was similarly affected, saying Press On opened the door to him talking about mental resilience with others, and helped him keep self-care in perspective.
“It gave me permission to see that self-care is not necessarily selfish – we care for ourselves so we’re better at caring for others,” he said.
“And a low day is not necessarily bad. It’s about your ability to bounce back from that.”
The pair have now parlayed the impact of the course into a benefit for their whole church. They’re running Press On as a group for almost 40 people, kicking off with a joint session and then allowing individuals to run at their own pace, with occasional check-ins.
“There’s not many resources like this in this space,”
“There’s not many resources like this in this space,” said Paul.
“I’m often asked for recommendations for Christian counsellors, but that’s often at critical times, and this is way back before that.”
He said it also equips Christians to care for each other pastorally, and is accessible for diverse participants, from young adults to people in their 80s, including unbelievers.
“It’s really good because it puts mental wellness on the table as a normal part of who we are,” said Margie, “as opposed to not talking about it until there’s a crisis.”
Find out more about Press On – Building resilience and mental wellbeing, and purchase the course to do at home, or with a group:
Michelle Haines Thomas is a journalist and marketing specialist who lives on the Hawkesbury River. Michelle’s hobbies include taking photos of clouds and stealing flowers from other people’s gardens.