Mental Health Friendly Church

Photo credit: Nick Shuliahin, Unsplash

October is Mental Health Month

(possible links to RCL in the Gospel reading on October 9th – could integrate a focus on mental health and disability)

A report below from National Church Life Survey – BEFORE the global pandemic. It would be interesting to see the stats now. Here’s a report from the UK on the mental health emergency courtesy of COVID.

Also, NCLS research on welcoming people with disabilities.

Revd Amy Brown (St Jude’s Anglican, Carlton) has written an article earlier in 2022 from the perspective of young people’s mental health here.

Scroll down for information about the Mental Health Friendly Church Project , and also information and registration details for the conference in Melbourne on October 8th on Mental Health and Disability, with a focus on how congregations/churches provide welcome and inclusion. Download conference brochure at end of this post and please share with your congregation and plan to come along!

Read the UCA statement on inclusion for people living with disability.

(You may be interested in learning more about the current Disability Royal Commission in response to reports of violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation of people with disability. You can be involved in public or private hearings or through submissions).

The 2016 NCLS survey revealed that 17%, or one in six, church attenders had sought or received treatment for a mental health issue in the last 2 years. Those attenders who had sought or received mental health treatment, were asked to rate the support they received from their local church, in regard to their mental health.

Some 37% gave a favourable rating of the support they received from their church, with 14% rating it as excellent and 23% as good. Around one in ten, 11%, rated the support from their church as adequate.

Nearly half of attenders (46%) who had received treatment for a mental health issue in the last 2 years said their church was unaware of it, and therefore unaware of the state of their mental health. For many attenders experiencing problems with their mental health, it may not be relevant that their church knows of it and that their privacy is respected. For others, it may be the case that their local church congregation could provide valuable support.

In 2021, the Mental Health Friendly Church Project in the UK partnered with Christian think tank, Theos, to conduct qualitative research with church leaders and a quantitative study of over 1,000 regular church-goers. Kintsugi Hope wanted a clear understanding of the attitudes towards mental health to enable resources which were tailored directly to the current needs of the church and the communities they serve.

Interviewees overwhelmingly agreed that churches can help people experiencing mental health issues. However, the research indicated a clear need for more local churches to create welcoming, safe and supportive mental health friendly communities.

And yet…

  • 91% of church leaders interviewed had received no training in mental health, despite mental health being identified as an ongoing need and issue within the church;
  • 56% of interviewees said their church rarely or never spoke about mental health;
  • Only 35% of the interviewees agreed that they felt positively supported by the church concerning their own mental health.