10 July 2007

Out of Solitary Places: calling on churches to serve those with mental health problems

Within every church there will be people who have mental health problems or have experienced them in the past, as well as people who are affected as family, friends or carers. Churches strive to understand these pressures, but don't always know how to support those affected by them.

A new leaflet is encouraging churches to be aware of the signs of mental health problems and to provide care and support. Out of Solitary Places uses case studies to highlight the ways in which churches can make a real difference to those suffering from mental health problems through care and friendship.

Revd. Michaela Youngson, Secretary for Pastoral Care and Spirituality, says; "You don't need to be a doctor to recognize that someone is struggling; there's so much that we can do to provide practical help and encouragement and to promote good mental health and wellbeing. Churches frequently have contact with people facing crises or major life changes that can trigger mental health problems, but often don't know how to respond to this need. This is an issue for all of us and we need to challenge the stigma associated with these problems."

Out of Solitary Places also highlights the need for churches to be a welcoming, safe place for people of all backgrounds and to establish links with local mental health services. It encourages people to find out more about current issues in mental health policy and funding and to campaign for positive change.

The leaflet gives links to web-based resources and support organizations for people suffering from mental health problems and those who support them. A new training resource from the Methodist Church, Encircled in Care, aimed at those involved in pastoral care in the church and community, will be available from September and contains a module on mental health.

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