About the Mental Health Promotion Initiative
The Church of Ireland is a church that seeks to serve the whole community and to engender hope at a very difficult time for everyone who lives on this island. That hope is based on our understanding of the generous gospel of Jesus Christ through sharing whatever resources and gifts we possess, as open-handedly as possible. My hope and prayer for this initiative is that as a serving church we will be able to be more effective in our ministry of comfort, of practical help and of hope, and in doing so to benefit those most in need within our communities and beyond.
Poor mental health is one of the biggest issues facing our communities, and, as the devastating long-term impact of the pandemic becomes clearer, the need and opportunity for the Church to step up its support in this area is growing. The Church has always been on the frontline of caring for the vulnerable, and we’re delighted that our funding will help deepen understanding of mental health in the Church of Ireland, enabling them to raise awareness and respond to this pressing need in the most effective way possible.
The Prophet Isaiah described the mission of the coming Messiah ‘to bind up the broken hearted’ (Isaiah 61:1) while in the New Testament ‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness’ (Matthew 9:35).
The Church is an integral part of the community, in the unique position to reach even the most remote cohort of the population. This project underlines and reaffirms the Church’s commitment to this community. It will serve as a concrete expression of our desire to make the Church a welcoming and inclusive environment, and it provides a practical demonstration of the Christian values of love and understanding.
The Church Of Ireland began a three year mental health promotion initiative in October 2020 which aims to support and respond to the mental health needs of communities in both jurisdictions across the island of Ireland. This was made possible by a significant grant from Allchurches Trust – one of the UK and Ireland’s largest grant-making charities https://www.allchurches.co.uk/ .
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The Representative Church Body of the Church of Ireland and the House of Bishops are fully committed to the successful implementation of the project in terms and are co funding this initiative.
The aim of this first time initiative is to transform the understanding of, attitudes towards and responses to mental health within the Church of Ireland (COI) and the wider community through evidence based sustainable mental health promotion.
There is a significant body of evidence highlighting the contribution a Church can make in mental health promotion. Clergy and pastoral carers are often the first people approached by those experiencing mental health difficulties, and their day-to-day activity brings them in contact with people experiencing anxiety, illness, bereavement, the search for meaning, and suicide or self-harm.
National evidence shows:
“Mental Health Ireland admire the in-depth and sustainable approach taken in this project as it aims to support and respond to the mental health needs of the community.” (Mental Health Ireland)
“This is a very important area and no doubt would be of great benefit to those within the Church of Ireland and the wider community” (David Webb CEO Protestant Aid)
“I am really encouraged by the understanding and recognition of the pivotal role the Church plays in mental health promotion…I am particularly heartened that the project team understand the importance of the project being needs led and I look forward to the results of the baseline assessment of the Church’s understanding of and ability to promote mental health”. (James Lucey Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Professor at Trinity College Dublin)
The project will achieve its objectives by doing the following:
The project is expected to have a three-year timeframe with a belief that the impact can continue well beyond that timeframe.