At Kintsugi Hope, we want to see a world where emotional and mental health is understood and accepted, with safe and supportive communities for everyone to grow and flourish. But our recent research has shown that we still have some work to do as the Church to increase our understanding and see our churches become safe and supportive spaces.
A staggering 91% of church leaders had received no training on mental health issues at any point during their ministerial training – which has led to churches not really talking about mental health openly, with 56% of churchgoers rarely or never hearing mental health talked about in their church.
These are sobering statistics and we want to see a change.
For this reason, we have developed a Mental Health Friendly Church Training Day that churches can host for their leaders, congregations and communities to elevate the understanding of mental health, see stigma eradicated and encourage a compassionate response to those who are struggling through a ministry of gentle presence.
Our training will bring together a robust theology of mental health with insights into how we can practically support those who are struggling whilst continuing to take care of our own mental wellbeing.
From the outset, we have wanted the Mental Health Friendly Church Project to be one of both challenge and encouragement. Our research has clearly highlighted some of the challenges we face as the Church, and now we want to equip churches to face these challenges.
We recently spent two weeks at Spring Harvest delivering seminars on faith and mental health and it reminded the whole team how vital this work is. One attendee told us that they’d never before heard how scripture speaks about mental health with the word ‘shalom’ – the wholeness, peace and completeness of God.
We’d love to bring the Mental Health Friendly Church Training Day to a church near you, and in the meantime we wanted to share our three ways you can make your church more mental health friendly this Mental Health Awareness Week.
- Perhaps the simplest thing we can do – but potentially the most powerful – is to include mental health, mental illnesses and mental health services in intercessory prayers. This enables the conversation to begin where it should: in the presence of God. And it encourages those who are struggling that mental health matters to God.
- The second is to ensure we connect with the emotions of biblical characters in our preaching. We don’t want to diagnose ancient biblical characters with contemporary psychiatric disorders, but we do want to recognise that the giants of our faith were human too and they wrestled and celebrated with their emotions. It might be a good idea to use the Psalms to survey the emotions included, or to focus on the specific emotions that Jesus experienced during his earthly ministry.
- Get booked onto the Kintsugi Hope National Conference, Go Gently, which is happening on 21st May to hear more about our vision and wisdom from hostage survivor Terry Waite, Co-Founder of The Mind and Soul Foundation, Will van Der Hart, as well as our Co-Founder and CEO, Patrick Regan.
These simple steps can begin to elevate understanding, eradicate stigma and encourage compassion, and that is our mission at the Mental Health Friendly Church Project.
For more information on the Mental Health Friendly Church Training days visit: www.kintsugihope.com/mhfc.