Mental health within a church context
Support for people with difficulties...
One in four people will experience mental illness in their lifetime. This figure is based on those who go to their GP and receive a diagnosis; the real figure is likely to be much higher. None of us is immune. Our lives can change abruptly and bring us to a point of crisis. For all of us, our mental health is on a spectrum and varies from day to day.
The causes of mental illness are both psychological and physiological. Our susceptibility is related to our personal life history, personality and the levels of stress experienced. There is evidence to show that mental health conditions can be influenced by the balance of chemicals present in the brain. Mental illness needs to be seen as an illness and not a deficiency or weakness of character. Treatment can include medication, psychological therapies and social support.
As we draw close to and care for those who have a diagnosed mental illness, we recognise our shared humanity and vulnerability. We can also discover the God who is hidden within the human heart.
‘It helps when people at church are friendly, warm, accepting, kind and encouraging. Kindness is the main thing.’
Research undertaken by the Time for Change campaign, a national project to reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by those who suffer from mental illness, has found that faith communities, for the most part, do an excellent job of welcoming and supporting people with mental illness.
When someone is suffering they need to feel that the church is a safe and loving place, a place where they can belong and feel accepted and welcomed for who they are. The most important and precious thing that we can offer is a listening ear and heart: a listening that includes trying to understand what the other person is experiencing and how they feel, a listening that communicates warmth and love.
Explore the links to pages below for information, resources and links. This guidance has come from the Mental Health Working Group within the diocese of Sheffield.