Prayer and faith help to support good mental health, but stigma around the issues involved still remains a major challenge, research carried out by the Church of Ireland has revealed.
These are some of the key findings that have emerged from research undertaken by the MindMattersCOI project earlier this year, and the Church is now preparing to take practical steps to improve and support mental health literacy.
Over the past 12 months, MindMattersCOI has been listening to both clergy and lay members of the Church of Ireland to understand the Church’s attitudes and awareness towards mental health. Over 1,200 members and more than half of all clergy participated in this research.
On World Mental Health Day, Sunday October 10, the Church of Ireland is putting the call out for mental health champions to promote mental health literacy and help break down barriers created by stigma.
The Chairperson of the MindMattersCOI advisory group, Bishop Pat Storey, is urging people with an interest in mental health, whether personal or professional, to become involved in the project.
“Improving mental health literacy is so important for us all,” Bishop Pat said. “We need to understand how to maintain and support positive mental health amongst our friends, community and, in particular, our younger people. Recognising issues and talking about mental health helps to decrease stigma and remove barriers to seeking help.”
The MindMattersCOI project is supported by Allchurches Trust. Jeremy Noles, Head of Grants and Relationships for Allchurches Trust, said: “As we continue to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a renewed focus across the UK and Ireland on mental health and well-being, and the increased needs and issues in this area.
“We’re delighted that our funding can help bring greater awareness and hope by extending the reach of MindMattersCOI. This will help many more people struggling with mental health issues to access support which could change their lives for the better.”
The research, the results of which will be available on the MindMattersCOI website – https://mindmatters.ireland.anglican.org – in the coming weeks, also found that:
Based on the findings of the research, the next phase of the project will focus on improving mental health literacy. This is defined as:
The project is now calling for additional volunteers to get involved and become ambassadors for mental health in their parishes and wider communities. Thanks to the generous support of Allchurches Trust, there will be a wide variety of training on offer as well as funding available for local projects that support mental health literacy.
Announcing phase two of the project, Bishop Storey said: “We have listened to what you told us in the research and now we want you to get involved. We want you to join our movement for mental health literacy. There are opportunities for training and there is also seed funding for projects in parishes and dioceses.”
Although the MindMattersCOI project was conceived before the Covid pandemic, it is recognised that young people were among those most affected during successive lockdowns. The project is therefore carrying out an additional sub-study focusing exclusively on younger members of the Church of Ireland.
For more information and to sign up as a champion, please visit the MindMattersCOI website at https://mindmatters.ireland.anglican.org.