Mental Health Crisis and the Church

05 January 2023

The New Year is a time when many struggle with mental health. In this blog James Carver, the Methodist Youth President, considers the role of the Church in tackling the mental health crisis among young people.

A recent report by the NHS claims that one in four young people in Britain has a potential mental health disorder. Mental health disorders are conditions caused by a state of mind that impacts upon day-to-day living such as bulimia, OCD, depression, and anxiety.

When I heard about these results, sadly, I wasn’t shocked. There have been discussions for many years, inside and outside the Church on this topic and, in my opinion, with all the negative and misleading messages young people get, it is no wonder that children and young people are in crisis.

On social media alone, we have “influencers” posting unrealistic and often edited images of what beauty is “supposed” to look like. And on platforms with direct messaging, young people may encounter the same bullies that hound them in physical life, doing the same thing from the comfort and safety of their home.

In recent years, the Methodist Church has been rolling out training sessions for anyone who wishes to learn Mental Health First Aid. This has included Mental Health First Aiders for 3Generate, the Methodist Children and Youth Assembly, and with the wider work of Children, Youth and Families Ministries.

I am encouraged that a few years ago the Methodist Conference listened to 3Generate and passed a motion to provide Mental Health First Aid training to individuals in the Church at a discounted rate. This training is to identify and assist someone who is going through a mental health crisis and includes depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other conditions. The role of a Mental Health First Aider is to help until further assistance can arrive.

However, I believe as a Church, we can do more! If we come together, we can tackle this issue at the roots. As identified in the report, a significant number of young people do not feel safe online and at school due to the possibility of a trigger occurring; things that start or worsen a mental health crisis, such as pressure from peers. We need to encourage tech giants and politicians to do more to protect young people on, and offline, and together we can make real progress in tackling this problem.

I would like to finish with these words for anyone feeling pressured at this time. The Bible teaches us that we are all made in the perfect image of God (Genesis 1:27) and if this is so, we do not need be concerned about what anyone, except for a doctor, informs us is the norm. We all come in different shapes and sizes and we all are beautiful beings inside and out.

If you've been affected by depression or mental health issues, then you can get help from Childline on 0800 1111 or the Samaritans on 116 123.