This three-year project, generously supported by Allchurches Trust, started in Autumn 2020. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of, and respond to, the mental health needs of communities across the island of Ireland. It also hopes to transform how we understand attitudes towards, and responses to mental health within the Church of Ireland and the wider community, through gathering evidence and looking at how we can promote good mental health over the longer term. Bishop Pat Storey, who chairs the project team, has expressed her enthusiasm for the project, emphasising that MindMatters COI will give the Church the opportunity to find out “what our clergy and members know and understand about mental health, and they will then be offered a range of training and awareness programmes to support improved knowledge around this important topic.”
The appointed research team, Dr Katrina Collins and Kate Wilkinson, have now completed an extensive review of the existing literature on mental health awareness and understanding in faith–based communities. Building on this, they are now moving on to find out about mental health awareness and understanding within the Church of Ireland community.
This is where the involvement of the wider Church, both clerical and lay, is critical. Three surveys have been prepared: one for the clergy; one for adult members; and one for our younger members. To support the surveys, a number of interviews and focus groups will be held with all three groups. The survey is completely confidential and anonymous and will take about 15 minutes to complete. The responses from the survey will be stored electronically in a password–protected file that only the two researchers will have access to. This information is not shared with anyone else and is only used for the purposes of the MindMatters COI project.
The interviews and focus groups will last about an hour and will give an opportunity to explore understanding and attitudes about mental health and mental health problems in more depth. This information will be treated in the same way as the survey responses. If you are interested in joining a focus group, please leave your contact details at the end of the survey, contact the project at firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 353 (0) 1 4125 660 and leave your name and contact details.
The findings from the research and the surveys will support the development of a Church of Ireland Mental Health Promotion Strategy, which will include a mental health awareness and training plan that will be rolled out across the Church of Ireland. The strategy will also include a significant programme of seed funding for Diocesan–led mental health promotion initiatives.
The MindMatters COI project gives the Church of Ireland the opportunity to take proactive and positive steps to support mental health awareness and understanding for all of our members and clergy and we do hope you will get involved.
To read an introductory article by Bishop Pat Storey, please click here. This article was first published in the May 2021 edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette, an all–island magazine serving the Church.