Thinking of mental health and wellbeing, the Church has a great deal to say about what it means to be human with all its fragility, weakness and vulnerability alongside capacity for growth, development, wholeness, healing and the building of relationships. It is also able to offer alternatives to state provision and thinking about health and care.
Study day – Birmingham – 10 July 2018
The Social Responsibility Network arranged a study day for members and colleagues to share ideas, experience and resources on work with mental health and wellbeing and to talk about areas where the Church can make a contribution or a difference. Underpinning the conversations during the day was the fundamental importance of honouring the reality and gifting of each individual, using an asset-based community development approach in working with mental health and co-production with ‘experts by experience.’
Key Issues identified
Discussions in the morning identified a number of key issues that were addressed in more detail in workshops in the afternoon:
• Contextualised services and support for people moving back into the community.
• Theology and language used around mental health and wellbeing.
• Resources that are available, and what is missing that would be helpful. (A list of resources is now available!)
• Liturgy and spirituality. (see one example on this subject here!)
• Links between the Church and other professional organisations and services.
• Issues for dioceses.
• Campaigning and prevention. (For example Zero Suicide Alliance)
Top three discussion points…
Three sentences captured the thinking of the group discussions in the morning:
• No decision about me without me.
• Wellbeing and recovery depends on patient, personal agency.
• Broken people together can make whole communities.
Some comments and questions from the day:
• There is more hope that a faithful parish church will be able to provide support than diocesan structures. It offers features that promote mental health – connection, belonging, identity, acceptance, meaning, a role, etc. But don’t give up on the diocese!
• Symptoms, not causes, are often being addressed.
• We can share insight that mental illness can be a spiritual / transformative experience.
• What will be the role of the Church in the political / social / economic map in the next 10-years? We need to begin to engage with these issues now.
• How do we make connections with other professionals and join things together? A good start would be to talk to people already in our churches who are working in mental health.
• Campaigns are based on engagement – does the Church own its investment in mental health?
• Talk to the most vulnerable people in the church about a spirituality that works for them.
• Affirm the importance of communities, love and relationships.
• Where is God calling me?
Prepared by Ann Wright, SRN, 2/8/2018
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