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/ 9 October 2019

111 clergy explore mental health

111 clergy in the Edmonton Episcopal Area considered the subject of mental health at their study day at Christ Church, Cockfosters on Thursday October 3rd. Nigel Taylor shares his experience of the day. 

The topic was tackled looking both at clergy mental health as well as caring for those in our parishes who have mental health needs, and was chaired by Corin Pilling of Livability. Will van Der Hart of the Mind and Soul Foundation looked at the importance of the Church’s trinitarian perspective – body, mind and spirit – and the need to address all three when considering mental health. He helpfully challenged the idea that mental health prevented fruitfulness in ministry, citing Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, John Bunyan and Florence Nightingale, as people who struggled with various mental health issues yet whose impact lives on. Sally Horner from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust discussed themes in mental health such as hope and lament, desert, stigma, shame and telling our stories. The themes of “love” and “remembering”, when brought together, can be transformative, which is how Terry Waite said he survived in isolation, by remembering the Eucharist and love of friends and family.

A panel of speakers including Ruth Rice of Renew Wellbeing explored “Moving beyond the basics of self-care”. Isolation was a key theme to address, as well as supervision for the clergy. In the afternoon Ali Hogger-Gadsby of St. Paul’s Coventry and Director of “Keeping Health in Mind” gave practical advice for supporting people in crisis, and discussing emotional resilience in churches. A panel then responded to questions on the theme of “growing wellbeing in a diverse church”.

Comments on the day from clergy present included: “Very refreshing, honest and thought-provoking”, “really got me thinking”, “extremely helpful: informative, challenging and reassuring”, “practical and helpful”

The Revd Nigel Taylor is the Area Director of Ministry for the Edmonton Area. 

Photo credits: Julia and Jeremy Fletcher

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