Mental Health Friendly Church

What makes a church a good one to go to if you are struggling with your mental health? Is it the fact they have a Counsellor on staff or have an annual Awareness Day? Or is it that they are aware enough to care, small enough to notice and moving slow enough to care. Do you go to a Mental Health Friendly Church?

A Safe Place

In 2010, Rob Waller and Marion Carson met with about 50 people at ICC in Glasgow for a day to explore this topic further. Download audio and slides from the day below. Introduction - Audio. Seminar - Audio - Slides - Comments. The CLOTS guide - Audio [comedy... don't take too seriously!] - Cartoon. Summary and Conclusion - Audio

The Criteria

You will have worked out by now [if you have listened to the audio files above] that coming up with easy criteria for a Mental Health Friendly Church is not easy. See this article for more background. We have been working with colleagues from Through the Roof, and they think the best way forward is for us to allow churches to SELF-Identify - that is, to put themselves forward as having agreed to a statement.

This has risks [unfriendly churches may think they are friendly], but at least we have a situation where the church leadership are saying 'this is something we want to take seriously. Below this article is a statement that covers all types of mental health problems and disabilities as there are many similarities across this field. Also, the people at Through the Roof found that having simple things for physical disability such as a wheelchair ramp or hearing-aid loop were not always the most important things. It is the culture in the church that counts.

-- People with difficulties feel they ‘belong’ whether or not they are able to take part in or attend meetings (although it is of course a good sign if they do feel able to attend and be part of meetings)
-- A contact/team is available to consult with who ‘champion’ issues around disability and health and are able to signpost local services
-- Information is available in alternative formats appropriate for different needs [e.g. large print, audio, electronic]
-- Physical adjustments are willingly made to help those with different needs and the style of individual services is relatively predictable
-- Church activities welcome, accept and are positive environments that are flexible to people’s needs
-- People give their time sacrificially to listen and respond to pastoral issues, ideally described by a Pastoral Care Policy/Strategy
-- The culture/ethos of the church is one of an on-going journey of valuing all, addressing their needs and enabling them to use their gifts and contribute

More Information

A magazine article about this topic - you could include this in your church magazine
The CLOTS guide - a comic video to get people thinking
Faith Actions Friendly Places initiative - with another video you can show
Output from some Focus Groups we have run over time
Our video about Ending Stigma in churches
The Slides (PDF) from New Wine 2018

Mind and Soul Team, 11/06/2019
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