THE Church of Ireland has launched a mental-health promotion programme to mark World Mental Health Day. It has been described as a source of “practical help and of hope” by the Irish Primate, the Most Revd John McDowell.
The programme will begin with a three-year study of attitudes towards mental health among members of the Church of Ireland, tracking changes that occur during this period.
The research findings will form the basis of a series of mental-health training and support resources produced by the Church of Ireland, to be disseminated among government bodies and mental-health charities. Individual dioceses can apply in the future for more funding for local programmes. The research is being funded by the Allchurches’ Trust, the charitable arm of the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.
Archbishop McDowell said: “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.
A Church of Ireland spokesperson said on Friday: “The need for this work existed long before the current public-health crisis, although the need may be even greater now, given the potential long-term impacts on mental health from Covid-19.
“One of the key hopes is that initiatives are sustainable beyond the lifetime of the programme, so building relationships at a local and national level with state and community mental-health services is a priority.”
The CEO of Mental Health Ireland, Martin Rogan, expressed support for 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. The Church of Ireland have put in place all the necessary considerations to make this project sustainable, and we particularly welcome their approach of carrying out baseline research to establish the current needs of the community.”
The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd John Davies, spoke earlier in the month about the impact of new Covid-19 restrictions on people’s mental well-being, saying it would cause anxiety and confusion and be “traumatic” for many (News, 2 October).
Church asks for sensitivity in end-of-life debate
THE two Anglican Archbishops in Ireland, Archbishop McDowell and the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Michael Jackson, said on Thursday that they recognised very difficult situations and emotions can arise from the management of care towards the end of a life.
They were speaking after the Dying With Dignity Bill passed another hurdle in the Irish government, moving to committee stage, with a time limit of 12 months. If passed, the legislation would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to request medical assistance to end their lives.
The Archbishops said that the discussion of personal circumstances “always requires the utmost sensitivity”, and that “such sensitivity should also be borne in mind in the public debate around these issues”.