Worship on the theme of mental health: a guide for the Church

    12 May 2019

    One in four people will experience a mental health problem in any year. Mental health problems like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can affect anyone at any time, and it’s likely that many people in your congregation have been affected.

    But although mental health problems are common, nearly nine out of ten people affected still say they have faced stigma and discrimination as a result. Often, people say the stigma is as bad as the symptoms of the illness itself. Stigma and discrimination ruin lives – they stop people taking part in family, social and community life, stop people working who want to and can work, and even stop people seeking help.

    Time to Change is England’s biggest campaign to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. Run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, it works hard to change public attitudes and behaviour around mental health, and empower people with mental health problems to speak out. Often, what we do is about starting conversations that get mental health out into the open.

    As a society, mental health is not a subject we are open about. We feel afraid - either to talk about our own mental health problems (for fear of how people will react), or to talk to someone we know has been affected about it (maybe for fear of having an awkward conversation, or of not knowing quite the right thing to say).

    This fear means we're silent about mental health issues. We tread on eggshells, we decide it's less awkward just not to say anything. This silence fuels the stigma - which in turn makes it even harder for those with mental health problems to open up about it.

    For many, church provides community and comfort. They can be a good place to start conversations about mental health, and help people feel it’s OK to talk about it. They can provide a safe space for people with mental health problems to open up – and in doing so they will help open the minds of those around them. This pack, put together by The Church of England’s mental health group and Revd Eva McIntyre with Time to Change, provides some ideas and resources for churches to plan worship on the theme of mental health. We hope it will only be a starting point and that you and your congregations, once the issue is opened up, will have your own ideas for worship that helps to tackle this long lasting taboo.

    You can view the whole pack here: