Hope and Healing: Mental Health First Aid Training

A Three-Part Online Series - SOLD OUT!



Oct. 30 and Nov. 13, 2020, 9:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m., and Nov. 6, 2020, 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.


This three-part online series is designed to empower rural faith leaders with the knowledge, practices, and grounding they need to respond with grace and effectiveness to mental health concerns and to build viable, strong support systems to advance this work. To accomplish this goal, the program will offer instruction on:

a) How to differentiate spiritual care from mental health and to clarify what faith leaders are equipped to provide;

b) The theological rationale behind why caring for those with mental illness may be part of the mission of the church;

c) Becoming familiar and developing relationships with local mental health resources; and

d) Mental Health First Aid, a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues.

This program is co-sponsored with Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute and supported by a grant from the PC(USA).

Downloadable handouts:    FAQ Sheet                Flyer


Michelle Snyder is the owner and director of Soul Shop, a national movement that equips faith community leaders to minister to those impacted by suicidal desperation. Trained in both theology and mental health, Michelle has extensive experience as a chaplain, a therapist, a public speaker, suicide intervention trainer, and as a congregational consultant. She is the former executive director of the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute, a Samaritan Counseling Center, and has recently published a book, Life, Death, and Reinvention: The Gift of the Impossibly Messed Up Life. Michelle is a licensed clinical social worker with master's degrees in social work (University of Pittsburgh and divinity (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary). Michelle lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, a Presbyterian pastor, and her two daughters. 

Ashley S. Ashley moved from Spokane, Wash., to Pittsburgh in the fall of 2012 with her husband who was enrolling in Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Initially, Ashley worked as the director of youth and young adult ministries at Cross Roads Presbyterian Church in Monroeville, Pa. She then decided to pursue an MDiv herself at PTS. To care well for the people in her own future congregation and for the city itself, Ashley supplemented her MDiv with an MSW from the University of Pittsburgh—an option made possible thanks to the joint-degree program the two schools share. She believes that few churches today are capable of holding the hard stories that are already present in their own communities, but that churches need to learn that when they welcome people, they have to welcome their trauma as well. Now a 2020 graduate with joint degrees, Ashley's long-term goal is to work for an organization that cares for people who have experienced trauma and to co-pastor a church plant with her husband.  

Sean Burns is the Director of Operations and Senior Therapist at Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute (PPI). He has over 15 years of experience as a therapist in direct practice and intensive outpatient programs. Prior to his new role, he served for over three years as Clinical Director at PPI. Sean is a licensed clinical social worker and has certification to provide Mental Health First Aid training for adult and youth populations. Sean is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh (M.S.W.), Columbia International University (M.Div.), and Pennsylvania State University B.A.-business management).

Leanna Fuller is associate professor of pastoral care at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University (Ph.D.), Vanderbilt Divinity School (M.Div.), and Furman University (B.A.). Her most recent book is titled When Christ’s Body is Broken: Anxiety, Identity, and Conflict in Congregations (Wipf and Stock, 2016). Fuller has earned numerous fellowships, awards, and honors. She was selected to participate in the 2018-2019 Convocation of Christian Leaders program sponsored by Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School, as well as the 2016-2017 Wabash Center Workshop for Early Career Theological School Faculty. Fuller’s most recent conference paper, “One Body, Many Parts: An Ecclesiology for Churches in Conflict,” was presented at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. Dr. Fuller has professional experience in both congregational ministry and chaplaincy, and her primary research areas include conflict in faith communities, group dynamics in congregations, and clergy self-care. 


Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in this program. We have a wait list but anticipate that the registrants will all participate.


1.4 CEUs are available upon request to the Continuing Education office.


E-mail ConEd@pts.edu or call 412-924-1345.