Mental Health & Well-being Briefing Paper for Faith
Paper: Co-ordinating mental health and well-being activities with faith communities
through the Lanarkshire Spiritual Care Committee
Prepared by: Kevin O’Neill, Public Mental Health and Well-being Development
Manager, NHS Lanarkshire
On behalf of: the multi-agency Mental Health Links with the Faith Communities
Short-Life Working Group.
Bob Devenny, Head of Spiritual Care, NHS Lanarkshire organised for Kevin O’Neill to
attend the Lanarkshire Spiritual Care Committee on the 9th of March to provide an
overview of mental and well-being and identify the opportunities to reach faith
communities with our mental health improvement, suicide prevention and wider health
improvement messages. Since then a short-life working group has been convened as a
sub-group of the Lanarkshire Spiritual Care Committee. The sub-group have developed
this briefing paper to set out opportunities for consideration by Lanarkshire’s faith
The key principle of communication is to engage with faith communities and faith
leaders to extend the reach of our broad mental health improvement messages and
support faith leaders in their current role as they provide spiritual and emotional support.
The focus for this group is health promotion.
1. Why Mental Health
Mental health improvement is, and needs to continue to be, a key priority for Lanarkshire
and Scotland. 2 Mental health problems account for 20% of the total impact of disease in
the UK (more than any other condition) 1, with on average, around 75,000 adults 2 and
6,500 young in Lanarkshire self-reporting mental health problems in the last 2 weeks.
Around 2 people per week complete suicide across Lanarkshire.
The Department of Public Health, Lanarkshire NHS Board. The Health of the People within the Lanarkshire NHS
Board Area. Annual Report of the Director of Public Health 2007. Hamilton: Lanarkshire NHS Board, 2008.
Scottish Government. Towards A Mentally Flourishing Scotland: Policy and Action Plan 2009 – 2011. Edinburgh:
Scottish Government, 2009. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/271822/0081031.pdf
2. Mental Health Improvement
There is no health without mental health and mental health improvement is everyone’s
business. Mental health is a term used to describe emotional and psychological well-
being. For individuals, mental health is how a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced
with different situations. It is affected by factors that promote or demote people’s sense
of well-being either individually or at population level. Mental health improvement is an
umbrella term that may include action to promote positive mental health and well-being,
to prevent mental health problems and to improve quality of life for people with a
diagnosed mental health problem.
3. Spirituality & Mental Health and Well-being
Working with faith communities provides excellent opportunities to promote mental
health, suicide prevention, improve attitudes about mental ill-health, promote recovery
from mental health problems, promote the services and opportunities that are available
and encourage people to take steps to promote their own and others mental health and
well-being. We also appreciate the importance of providing culturally sensitive
information in an appropriate format and we would be pleased to work with you on this.
It is also recognised that spirituality and the social and community benefits of being part
of a faith community have been shown to be key factors in well-being and recovery from
mental health problems. We must also acknowledge that faith leaders currently play a
very important role in supporting the community at time of distress and we could perhaps
The ‘Days for Life Leaflet’ which has been given out at some Lanarkshire churches
shows how issues such as suicide prevention can be raised in a way that integrates with a
faith community and has the potential to reach many.
4. Mental Health Services
We know that faith leaders currently play a very important role in supporting the
community at time of distress. However, it was expressed by members of the Spiritual
Care Committee that there is not a good understanding of the supports that are in place
for someone who may have a mental health problem.
Mental health services are provided through partnership working between NHS, local
authority and voluntary sector providers:
GP’s - If someone you are in contact with needs someone to talk to or is maybe
experiencing mental health problems the most common response would be to
suggest and perhaps support them to see their GP who will undertake a brief
assessment, provide treatment and where necessary refer to mental health services
for further assessment and support.
Community Mental Health Services – Community Mental Health Services are
provided across all localities of Lanarkshire. These include statutory services such
as Mental Health Nurses, Social Workers, Psychiatrists, Occupational Therapists
and Psychologists; and non-statutory service provided by the voluntary sector.
Access to these services is normally through referral by a GP.
Hospital Inpatient Services – Wishaw General, Hairmyres Hospital and
Monklands Hospitals all have mental health inpatient wards for people who
require short-term 24hr care for a mental health problem.
Immediate Help - If someone you know is having thoughts of suicide it is
important to take them seriously and seek support as soon as possible. Remember,
in emergency situation dial 999. NHS 24 offers 24hr health advice and support
and a link to emergency care. Their telephone number is 08454 24 24 24. If the
GP surgery is closed or the person needs to speak to someone urgently the
following organisations should prove useful:
Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87
• Samaritans 08457 90 90 90/01698 429 411
• Age Scotland (older people) 0845 125 9732
• ParentLine 0800 800 2222
• ChildLine 0800 1111
• National Debtline 0800 808 4000
• Information on Drugs and Alcohol Issues www.lanarkshireadp.org
5. Access to Free Training Opportunities
We are pleased to offer free training to you and your community, recognising that you
will often be offering support as a faith leader:
Introduction to Mental Health (On-line) – This on-line training resources
produced by Choose Life North Lanarkshire provides a very useful
introduction to mental health, suicide prevention, increasing understanding
of mental health problems, challenging stigma and promoting recovery. A
certificate is provided upon completion: http://www.northlanmindset.org.uk/
Suicide Prevention Intervention Training – North and South Lanarkshire
Choose Life Programmes offer free suicide prevention training. Training can be
delivered to suit your needs. Course range from one hour to 2 full days as follows:
Suicide Talk (One Hour), safeTALK (Three Hours), Applied Suicide Intervention
Skills Training (ASIST) (2 days), Skills Training on Risk Management (STORM)
(4 X ½ day modules). This training improves participant’s confidence and skills
in identifying someone at risk of suicide and helping them get the right help.
For further information contact:
North Lanarkshire Choose Life Co-ordinator, Greg Burgess 01698 267 748
South Lanarkshire Choose Life Co-ordinator, Isobel McCarthy 01698 527432
6. Promoting Mental Health and Well-being at Places of Worship and Across the
We want to work with faith communities across Lanarkshire to promote suicide
prevention, improve attitudes about mental ill-health, promote recovery from mental
health problems, promote the services and opportunities that are available and encourage
people to take steps to promote their own and others mental health and well-being. We
could do this by:
Providing free information leaflets, postcards or leaflets which could be
made available at places of worship.
We could provide information which could be included in bulletins or
newsletters for the congregation to use and benefit from.
We could produce a leaflet that delivers the key messages for use within
We could provide a stall at community events.
For further information contact Fiona Ingram 01698 206381 or
7. Mental Health and Well-being Information
All 50 libraries across Lanarkshire have leaflets, books, CDs, DVDs and web-based
support aimed at helping people get the most from life such as becoming more assertive,
sleeping better and confident or helping people overcome and cope with mental health
problems such as depression, eating disorder, bereavement, dementia, panic and much
more. There are also resources for all ages including supporting positive parenting, young
people, adults and older people.
For local information on mental health, self-help and services you can visit Lanarkshire’s
mental health website, which is www.lanarkshirementalhealth.org.uk