Survey closes and summer of analysis begins

The MindMatters COI survey has now closed. There was a very good response rate, with a total of 1,317 parishioners and 290 clergy completing it. In addition to the survey, one-to-one interviews were held with the two Archbishops and ten Bishops and focus groups with members, clergy and clergy spouses also took place. The researchers will be working hard on the data analysis over the summer and will present the baseline assessment report in early September 2021.

A youth consultation will also take place in September, with the researchers working in partnership with the COI Youth Department and the Diocesan Youth Officers – if you would like to take part in this, please contact your Diocesan Youth Officer directly.

There will be a number of training opportunities available to clergy and members of the Church once the baseline assessment report is available. Please keep an eye on the Training and Supports section of the MindMatters COI website for more information.

Can you spare 15 minutes for mental health?

By Bishop Pat Storey

On World Mental Health Day last October, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev John McDowell, launched MindMatters COI, the Church’s new mental health promotion initiative.  Wellness in body, mind and spirit is something that our Church wishes to promote and our faith deeply desires.

We have been working hard, gathering a lot of information, developing a website and establishing an advisory group of experts to guide the project.  I am pleased to let you know that we’re now starting to collect information on awareness and attitudes towards mental health within the Church, and we need your help.  Gathering your thoughts on mental health awareness and understanding is a key phase of the project as the results will inform and shape everything else we do.

Therefore, I would really appreciate if you would visit our website – – and complete a short survey. It will only take about 15 minutes to complete, and the information you share will be anonymous and confidential.  We will also be running a number of online focus groups, and if you would like to join one of these, please let us know by emailing:

If you don’t have internet access but would still like to participate, please call + 353 (0) 1 4125 660 and leave your name and address. We will post you out a copy of the survey with a stamped addressed envelope, to return directly to the project manager, and will also provide details of the focus groups should you wish to participate in them.

The success of this initiative depends on your participation, so I would really like to encourage you to contribute and also tell your friends, relatives and fellow parishioners about this opportunity to take part and help us to respond best to the mental health needs in the Church and wider community. Updates on the project will be available on our website so do visit it regularly. Thank you in advance.

Bishop Pat Storey chairs the Project Team and Advisory Group for MindMatters COI.
This article was first published in the May 2021 edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette, an all–island magazine serving the Church.

MindMatters COI: the Church of Ireland’s Mental Health Promotion Project

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 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.