Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage
Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage

“Let’s make our churches and chaplaincies places of welcome and inclusion for people living with mental ill-health.”

Due to the Covid19 outbreak, the ‘Thinking Lunch’ planned by the St Albans and Welwyn Methodist Circuit for early May, was cancelled.  However, Sue Stilwell and Richard Allen had prepared a talk for this occasion, available here:  ‘When I needed a neighbour – where were you?’

Also (May 2020), a report produced by Living Ministry (part of the Church of England National Ministry Team) here:  THRIVE … during a pandemic  –  following recent research, six things are outlined in this document which contribute to the well-being of ordained ministers.


Leading work in this area, the MHA (Mental Health Awareness) Planning Group includes:

  • The Revd Sue Stilwell  –  Sue has been a Chaplain for 10 years in the elderly care sector, working with people living with dementia and life-limiting illness.  Alongside this, Sue has been attached and licensed for the last 8 years to the Bishop’s Hatfield Clergy Team and is actively involved in pioneer church ministry.
  • The Revd Richard Allen  –  Richard has been a Mental Health Chaplain for 16 years and currently manages the Spiritual Care Service at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust (HPFT), which provides mental health and learning difficulty care services in Hertfordshire and neighbouring counties.
  • Mrs Wendy Waters  –  Wendy is a Reader at St Mark’s Church, Bedford.  Wendy has had a keen interest in Mental Health and Wellness for around 20 years, after having become a Carer for a close family member.  Wendy has a long-held passion to remove the stigma around mental ill-health and to help improve the care and treatment of those affected by it.
  • Mrs Janet Bird  –  Janet is a member of the Diocesan Board for Mission and Ministry.  Over many years serving the Diocese, Janet has been a leading voice to encourage and support the church’s engagement with issues of a social responsibility / justice nature; in keeping with our diocesan initiative, Living God’s Love, to see ‘communities transformed’.


Previous events include:

19 October 2019:  Training Day with ‘Mind in mid-Herts’ on MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS (MHA)

This 2019 session was offered, following the day conference held in 2018 , which explored our welcome to those living with mental ill-health.  The 2018 day was designed to equip people who would like to better understand mental health and enable them to offer some direction and support, while the 2019 session gave more detailed insight into named conditions, from experts working in this field.

Below are the training notes and handouts from October 2019:

  1. MHA 19-10-19 – Anxiety
  2. MHA 19-10-19 – Depression
  3. MHA19-10-19  – Bipolar Disorder
  4. MHA 19-10-19 – Eating Disorders
  5. MHA 19-10-19 – OCD
  6. MHA 19-10-19 – Personality Disorders
  7. MHA 19-10-19 – Schizophrenia
  8. MHA 19-10-19 – Training Notes
  9. MHA 19-10-19 – Active Listening, Helping & Self-Care

Responding to the challenge of mental ill-health within our communities and congregations is essential if our churches and chaplaincies are to be places of welcome and inclusion for people living with mental ill-health.

It was for this reason that a gathering of parish clergy, pastoral teams and professionals working in the field of mental ill-health came together in October 2018 – hosted by the newly formed Mental-Health & Well-Being Network – to explore ways in which practical ideas, based on the needs of their own communities, could be turned into local initiatives of welcome and inclusion.  On this occasion, a colleague from MIND brought an insightful presentation, see:

There are some excellent examples of good, practical projects running in our diocese.  Some of these are on a large scale such as the well-established Connect Cafe at Soul Survivor Church in Watford, or The Lantern at St Paul’s Church, St Albans, which offers counselling services and works positively to break down stigma and encourage openness.  Others on a smaller scale cater for small numbers of people in ways such as one-to-one befriending and listening.

The Church of England nationally also offer resources for mental health issues, see:  Mental Health Matters 

Our ongoing aim is to make known and share good practice generally, to encourage one another.  No church needs to do anything on its own if it isn’t confident or doesn’t think it has the resources.  In almost every locality there will be opportunity to work ecumenically, with other church denominations,  or across faiths.   Also it is helpful to collaborate with other organisations and charities  –  see:  Useful Links

If you are looking for help with a new initiative or have some good ideas to share, please use one of the following options:

  • Sharing Forum  –  comments/questions can be posted in this private, password-protected forum – send Password Request
  • alternatively, send your question directly to Carol Chisnall at diocesan office, – this will be directed to a member of the Mental-Health & Well-Being Network.

Pray this prayer with us – written for World Mental Health Day by Alison Webster, the Oxford Diocesan Deputy Director of Mission (Social Responsibility) – shown here with permission:


World Mental Health Day is held on 10 October every year since 1992.  You may like to know more about this dedicated Day and start to plan how your church or chaplaincy may be involved in the future – find out more:  World Mental Health Day

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