In 2015 I had some detailed conversations with 20 volunteers from my church, each of which had received medical help for anxiety or depression. That amounted to 10% of our congregation. These are the ones who were willing to talk, there were others who did not. The need in the churches isgreat.
Yet, there is also a need among those we seek to reach. Food banks, soup kitchens, asylum-seeker support and other community work puts churches on the front line. Yet church leaders and volunteers often find themselves out of their depth when it comes to mental health issues.
We need to change this; in this vital area we need to know exactly what we are doing, raise our standards and keep them high. Every church needs people who can competently support individuals with a mental health problem, identify what it is, provide reassurance and encourage them to seek professional help.
Churches need an easily available way to build a team of well-trained people. The Mental Health First Aid course achieves this, and gives people a qualification that is recognised the world over.
The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course is a recognised qualification in 24 countries. In the UK, it is accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health. Over two days the course:
- Teaches people to spot symptoms of common mental health problems and to offer informed support
- Trains people to listen, give reassurance and signpost sufferers to the right professionals
- Introduces the use of high quality self-help resources for those facing mental health challenges
This is why I am doing the seven-day training course to become a MHFA instructor. My vision is to deliver the course in north east churches from mid-2018.