To mark World Mental Health Day 2022, the Church of Ireland is delighted to announce a series of seed funding projects that will be taking place across the island. A total of 74 projects have received funding, through the MindMatters COI project, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Benefact Trust. The projects build on initial research carried out by MindMatters COI and a programme of mental health awareness training, in which over 400 members of the clergy and lay people participated.
These projects are spread across all 11 dioceses of the Church and include:
- Glendermott Community Garden Project, Londonderry
Developing a community garden where people can come to unwind, relax and interact. The garden is being developed by a team of volunteers, helping to reduce social isolation and promoting mental health. Once fully established, the garden will provide members of the community with fresh fruit and vegetables, which will help local people in the light of the escalating cost of living.
- Voices of Hope: Songs of Healing, Limerick
Using the community choir model to organise and host ‘gently liturgical’ musical events. Participation in a casual choir allows the expression of emotions and can help build confidence and resilience. Music and singing have also been shown to promote mental health in other ways, such as improving cognitive performance, managing stress, improving mood and memory, and may reduce symptoms of depression.
- Marching to a Different Tune, Armagh
This project is working with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust to train a team of ‘Take 5’ trainers and ambassadors. This team will then deliver the Take 5 initiative to marching bands throughout Northern Ireland, with a particular emphasis on young men in rural areas – a group that is particularly hard to reach. The Take 5 steps are to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, and give.
- An Oasis by the Sea – A Retreat in Daily Life, Waterford
A series of short retreats aimed at reducing feelings of burnout, stress, isolation and loneliness. Participants can avail of a place for spiritual and mental rest, renewal and restoration. The retreats will be led by a combination of mental health practitioners, chaplains and spiritual directors, with participants also having time for group discussions and personal reflection.
The launch of these projects marks the beginning of the third year of MindMatters COI. The projects build on initial research carried out by MindMatters COI and a programme of mental health awareness training, in which over 400 members of the clergy and lay people participated, over the last 12 months.
Archbishop John McDowell, Primate of All Ireland, and Bishop Pat Storey, Chair of MindMatters, welcome the practical actions being taken to improve positive mental health across the island. The experiences and lessons learned from the projects will be discussed at the MindMatters all–island conference which will take place in Dublin on Friday, 20th October 2023. The conference, which will be addressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, will also provide an opportunity to consider the future direction of mental health initiatives within the Church of Ireland.
Andrew Bass, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “It is fantastic to see that so many amazing and varied projects have received funding through the seed funding initiative. It shows that there are positive actions going on in the Church of Ireland to address mental health needs, and it’s encouraging that the projects represent all dioceses. We’re privileged to fund MindMatters COI and the incredible work it’s doing to promote positive mental health within the church and the wider community.”