Research — 16 October 2015

More than a third of Christians have suffered mental health issues, according to a survey by Christian Research to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

Over 35 per cent had experienced some form of mental health issue and more than 80 per cent knew a close friend or relative with similar experiences. Nearly three in ten said they had been discriminated against or knew someone who had, for mental health problems. And while most said they would be happy to talk about their mental health problems at church, seven in ten said their churches offered no resources to deal with it.

Previous research by ComRes showed that mental health issues account for nearly 25 per cent of the disease quota in Britain yet attracts just 11 per cent of NHS spending.

 The NSPCC maintains that children are at risk but that many of those referred for mental health treatment are denied access to it.

A recent BBC story stated that universities are facing a 10 per cent rise in demand for counselling services from students, with recorded mental health cases having risen from 8,000 to 18,000 between 2008 and 2012.

The online research was conducted via Christian Research’s panel of around 17,000 practising Christians across the UK, with 1,275 responding between 5 and 7 October.

“This is a clear sign that churches need to provide a more supportive space for their congregations to explore these issues,” said Maddy Fry, the researcher behind the study.

Earlier this year the UK’s largest Christian disability charity, Livability, joined forces with Premier Mind and Soul to create new resource to help churches better understand people with mental health needs in their congregations.

Christian Today reported that Katharine Welby-Roberts, an associate at Livability and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s daughter, who has spoken publicly regarding her struggles with depression, said: “As anti-stigma campaigns, such as Time to Change, begin to see societal attitudes towards mental health change, the Church has begun to recognise the need to better support people with mental health needs in their congregations.” She said that churches wanted to support people with mental health problems, but did not know how. “This can often lead to isolation or people leaving the Church because they feel misunderstood or not catered for. I believe the Church is a key untapped local resource which can support people with mental health needs.”

This article first appeared on ‘Christian Today’ on 15 October 2015.

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