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Clergy Support Trust offers free workshops to boost clergy mental health

04 July 2023

Clergy Support Trust

THE Clergy Support Trust has devised a series of free well-being workshops in the UK and Ireland, in response to recent surveys suggesting a decline in the clergy’s mental health.

The charity supports Anglican clergy households in times of need. In January, the third wave of the ten-year study Living Ministry reported that the overall well-being of the clergy had declined since 2019 (News, 13 January).

Most well-being issues were found to have existed before the pandemic, but had been exacerbated by the national lockdowns, which increased workloads, pressure, stress, and physical and emotional toil for individual clerics, the report, Covenant, Calling and Crisis: Autonomy, accountability and wellbeing among Church of England clergy, said.

The chief executive of Clergy Support Trust, the Revd Ben Cahill-Nicholls, said that, last year, the Trust had offered support to almost one fifth of the clergy of the Church of England. “That startlingly high number, and the conversations we’re privileged to have with applicants, reveals a great need for more well-being support across the churches whose clergy we serve,” he said.

The five workshops, announced last week, have been created in partnership with five support-providers, each focusing on a different area: mental-health first-aid training to help clerics to support others; a course on trauma-informed ministry to explore the emotional and psychological effects of the pandemic on clergy and their congregations; another on building a healthy team and dealing with conflict in the context of ministry; one focusing on stress and resilience, “to prevent the pressures of ministry from having a detrimental impact on health in the first place”; and, finally, training for emerging and established leaders, with the option to work with St Luke’s for Clergy Wellbeing, which provides access to advice and clinical care for clergy and their families (News, 14 May 2021).

These five areas were identified in the Trust’s own 2020 survey of the clergy’s mental well-being, published in 2021.

Mr Cahill-Nicholls hoped that the workshops would “play a pivotal role in ensuring clergy feel better prepared not only to look after their own mental health and wellbeing, but also for those they minister to”.

He concluded: “We know how tight some diocesan finances are right now, which is why we have made the Wellbeing Workshops completely free. The Workshops are a pivotal step for the Trust as it seeks to increase the preventative nature of its vital work: serving those who do so much in service of others.”

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