Committed to Mental Health & Wellbeing: Caring & Loving

28 May 2019

“I see a church… that loves God, loves people and loves life.”
Brian Houston, The Church I Now See

A person’s overall wellbeing is determined by a number of factors and the measure of these can greatly affect their quality and perception of life [2]. Most people desire to enjoy life in its entirety, and we aim to practically support our community through the highs and lows that life brings, in order to help them succeed.

Extending love and care in tangible ways is at the heart of who we are as a church. We are committed to caring for people holistically, assisting them in times of great need, as well as celebrating their wins to ensure they feel loved and valued, adding to their overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Mental Health Awareness

A central component of each person’s health and wellbeing is their mental health (emotional and social wellbeing). Stable mental health assists people to live fulfilled lives, maintain healthy relationships as well as navigate the challenges experienced throughout life. At different times in our life, however, we may find it more difficult to manage day-to-day, and the challenges we experience and our wellbeing is impacted. Having the genuine support of loved ones and a community can assist a person in their wellbeing journey.

With one in five Australians experiencing a mental health illness in any one year and six Australians dying by suicide each day[3], there is an ever-present need for people and church communities to offer support and resources to assist people towards recovery and wellbeing. I consider it an honour and privilege to work alongside a team of people – my church – a community committed to letting people know they matter and that together we are better.

By raising our own awareness and learning healthy and helpful ways to come alongside people, we can all make a difference.

Dr Rebecca Lounder,
Clinical Psychologist NSW

Pastoral Responsibility

As a church, we have a strong focus on and commitment to people’s wellbeing including their mental health. Over the past few years, a significant focus within Pastoral Care has been to both support and help people while in crisis, and also provide prevention and early intervention supports in relation to mental health. As Dr. Lounder explains, at different times in our lives we can all find ourselves facing various obstacles with mental health. As a Pastoral Care team, we endeavour to support people in our church community wherever they find themselves along this spectrum. By providing a broad range of care and practical support, we offer support along a spectrum of intervention:

1. Prevention support through education and awareness, including mental health first aid training and suicide prevention training for church staff and volunteers.

2. Early intervention support when early signs of distress are evident, through pastoral support on weekends and throughout the week, and developing specific pathways depending on needs of our congregations, including location and age group.

3. Crisis support and care for individuals and families impacted by the illness or loss of a loved one by suicide. We provide an immediate pastoral response and offer care for the individual or loved ones affected by the loss. We offer professional support to pastors, youth leaders and church friends of the person (with a psychologist).

4. Stabilisation and consistency through individual support and care for a person, and assisting them to access and develop a broader support base.

5. Providing support and encouragement as people continue their journey to wellbeing, accessing training and empowerment to live fulfilled lives.

Margaret Aghajanian,
Pastoral Care Oversight (AUS)

Pastoral Care Training

We are committed to equipping our people to build their awareness and develop skills in order to be able to come alongside others who may be dealing with mental health concerns. During October, as part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Clinical Psychologist Dr Rebecca Loundar spoke to all our Australia-based staff about mental health and trained them in suicide prevention. Over 350 staff downloaded a practical resource to assist those dealing with thoughts of suicide.

In 2018, we ran mental health first aid training in three locations: Greater Western Sydney, Brisbane and Sydney, with a total of 19 people receiving accreditation.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance in this area, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

 

[2] “Wellbeing”, accessed 1st May 2019
[3] 2019, Black Dog Institute