It is well known that Lockdown has had a negative impact on many people’s mental health. Perhaps you used the Tearfund’s Re-Booted series to explore the impact of Lockdown on your congregation. Recognising the impact of stresses on our mental health is very much more in the public domain and people are talking about their own mental health much more openly. As a church we need to be part of this conversation, but where do we start, and can we offer anything to help? Perhaps a good starting place is to use some Sunday service time to consider how our faith interacts with our well-being. Hence the idea of having a Well-being Sunday in January as a proactive response to a difficult time of year.
The suggestions below for Well-being Sunday focus on enhancing general well-being rather than trying to address serious challenges to mental health. However, it is a starting place for talking about emotional well-being as part of our mental health. We do realise that you might already have a preaching and teaching program in place, and this might be too short notice! If so, we would really encourage you to focus on Mental Health and Well-being at another convenient time. You might want to include some of the resources at the end of this document in your church notice sheet to signpost people to websites and other local resources available.
Here are a range of materials to help you develop a Well-being Sunday Service:
In Northampton we have been working in partnership with the national charity Action for Happiness to promote the 10 evidence- based activities people can do to improve their well-being enabling more people to Live Life to The Full. This is the acrostic GREAT DREAM below. David Smart says, “as a Christian GP it is the only framework I know, that has a biopsychosocial spiritual offer. It is not a prescription more a menu of options for people to take action.” https://www.actionforhappiness.org
Our mental health subgroup has pulled together some people with real passion and expertise in the area of mental health. It is clear that there is some excellent work going on in Northamptonshire.
1. We have compiled a Resource List of Services locally and online- to signpost people to when helping someone experiences challenges to their mental healthDownload
2. We have developed a list of Mental Health Courses available locally, on-line and ‘on the shelf’- see attached. It is divided up into five sections:
- Mental health awareness
- Courses to build up emotional resistance
- Developing mental health champions
- Support for those experiencing mental health challenges
- Developing a ministry in churches
Social prescribing is being introduced into general practice across the country and the use of non-medical interventions will become the norm as part of personalised care plans. This provides opportunity for the paradigm shift of an asset-based model (looking at what is working for you) rather than a deficit model and progress to more whole person care.
The mental health subgroup has conducted a survey of faith leaders to explore how churches support people experiencing challenges to their mental health, to share good practice and to identify resources to support people more effectively. Seventy eight responses were received and a summary of the results is available through this powerpoint presentation. Download Here
We are hoping to present some case-studies of good practice on this web-site in due course. We have developed a Mental Health Champions Workshop which we are happy to deliver to your church- if you are interested then do contact Sue Griffiths via [email protected]Download Results
Well-being cafes and Happy Café run very successfully in Northampton. In fact they are being used as a model for others to follow. These are opportunities for those with mental health issues to gather together in social environments to support each other, and do positive activities together. The Northampton Happy Café was shown on the national news, with David Smart being interviewed. The Wellbeing Café run by St Giles church was recently visited by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was highly complementary!
There is an increase in demand on Mental Health Services, which are already under considerable pressure. Many comments e.g. ‘over capacity, entry level at crisis point’ suggest the issues identified are those which fall below the threshold for professional involvement.
Mental Health covers a whole range of issues, some of which may require professional involvement. Children, young people, adults and older adults with age related mental health issues were all mentioned. It would be easy to consider the wide range of issues and despair of achieving much, but there are things that can be done. Raising awareness of the issues and being a community that accepts and supports those with mental health issues (thereby reducing the stigma) is a first step which everyone can be involved in.