More than 20 clergy and other church leaders attended a recent seminar on issues surrounding mental health, hosted by the Church of Ireland’s Church and Society Commission (CASC) in Church of Ireland House, Belfast.
The third of a series of occasional seminars hosted by CASC, the morning had input from three speakers, with a particular focus on the area of perinatal and postnatal mental health.
The first speaker was the Rev Dr Pat Mollan, Director of the Church’s Ministry of Healing at The Mount, Belfast. Pat spoke broadly on the issue of ‘Faith and Mental Health’ and the importance of relevant faith intervention through ongoing ministry, but also the importance of not neglecting medical intervention at the same time. Pat also shared from her own experiences with postnatal depression.
The second speaker was Dr John Kyle, a member of a Belfast City Council but, more significantly in this instance, an experienced GP in East Belfast. John brought to bear much of what he has learned through his experience, including a useful description of warning signs and also of some avenues of help, including some self–help resources.
The final speaker was Lindsay Robinson, whose blog ‘Have you seen that girl?’ has grown into a website (www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com) and into a movement to campaign for better support for maternal mental health matters.
Lindsay spoke powerfully and personally of her own journey with postnatal depression, and also shared testimony of the importance of her faith – and her struggle in faith – throughout the journey.
The event was opened and closed by the outgoing Chair of CASC, the Rev Adrian Dorrian, who said in his closing remarks: “One of the things that is very apparent from what we’ve heard this morning and from other experiences is that this is an issue we may not always recognise, but one that is a very real part of the life of our parishes.
“Thanks to those who spoke today for offering us their experience and hopefully helping us as church leaders to be better equipped to help others in the future.”