A message from our Patron
“Almost everyone will be touched by issues around mental health at some point in their lives, either through their own illness or the struggles of a loved one. Sadly, mental illness still carries a stigma and many find it hard to talk about. Church communities with their desire to be hospitable and welcoming are often places of refuge for those who struggle and feel isolated. ‘Peace of mind’ seeks to inform people about mental illness, to remove the stigma and give people skills and understanding to help those who struggle. Their workshops and training are designed to empower churches to support people with mental health concerns. I warmly commend their work. “
Rt Rev Richard Jackson
One in four of us will have a mental health problem at some stage in our lives. Some folk in our churches at this very moment are experiencing mental health concerns. Social isolation is exacerbating the problems for others. With the cutback in centrally funded services, GPs frequently suggest that their patients might find support for their mental health needs within church congregations. Other needy and vulnerable people seek out churches of their own accord.
How equipped are you to support them?
The churches of Brighton and Hove are trying to equip themselves.
When in January 2011, a handful of these Christians got together, it was decided that what was needed first was a better understanding of mental health concerns and advice on how non-professionals can best support those experiencing them. Later in the spring, under the umbrella of Churches Together in Central Brighton, a two day Mental Health Awareness course was offered. It proved so popular it was offered a second time, with a total of 60 people attending. It was obvious that the need discovered in central Brighton was being experienced all over the city and in every denomination.
In 2012, it was decided to form a training group which could apply for funding and operate independently of Churches Together. Accordingly “Peace of Mind” was established and it now has a constitution, trustees, a small bank account and membership.
The aim of Peace of Mind is to empower churches to support people with mental health concerns by:
Raising the level of mental health awareness among the churches in Brighton and Hove by providing training and supervision (training),
Networking across the churches of Brighton and Hove to encourage ventures which support people with mental health concerns (networking),
Providing a platform for churches to respond together to the needs of the local community around mental health (representation),
Investigating and resourcing innovative programmes for mental wellbeing amongst the churches of Brighton and Hove (innovation).
Since 2012, Peace of Mind has tried to offer two training opportunities a year. Courses thus far have included a three day listening course, a day course on mental health and spirituality, a two day courses on mental health first aid (offered twice) and a day course on personality disorders. All have been led by professionals and have been extremely well received. These courses have been backed up by supervision- style sessions where further advice is offered on situations and problems encountered in local churches.
Peace of Mind is also beginning to try to help churches combat social isolation and develop activities such as art, creative writing, singing, keep-fit, cooking, book and film clubs which will promote good mental health.
With one in four of the population likely to experience a mental health issue during their life time, every church needs to be prepared to be a safe place of healing and wholeness. Peace of Mind is delighted that there are now 20 Mental Health First Aiders in churches across the city who are supported by a trained team of others who can offer back up pastoral care. And there are a few examples of drop-in activity groups which are reaching out to the vulnerable. All this is good news; but Peace of Mind wants to encourage still more congregations to take mental health seriously and to recognise the role they can play in the healing and support of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.