Caring for our communities’ mental health

Published: Friday January 6, 2023

Nicki Bullivant

One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. And nearly 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems say that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives.[1]

With the current recession, pressures on mental health are high. Our churches, at the heart of each community, have the potential to be a valuable support for people who need signposting to help and advice.

The Safeguarding Training Team for the Diocese of Gloucester is offering two different courses, to help equip people with the skills and knowledge to support those around them with their mental health.

A two-day Mental Health First Aider course and a one-day Mental Health Champion course aim to provide participants with the skills and confidence to spot the triggers and signs of mental health problems and be able to contribute effectively to reducing stigma.

The Revd Nicki Bullivant (above), an Assistant Curate at Tidenham parish and St Briavels with Hewelsfield, went on a two-day Mental Health First Aid training course in 2022.

As well as being a member of the clergy, Nicki is a part-time well-being chaplain in her parish and is also a hospital chaplain, so felt that there were many areas where the training would come in handy.

“I decided to sign up for the course because I became aware of a heightened sense of anxiety, not just among patients but also among nursing colleagues. Mental health care in the community at the moment is extremely stretched, with very little help available. As Christians, we are called to show God’s love to people, caring holistically for the whole person, spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally.

“The news has been highlighting that there is a mental health crisis and, in my role of well-being chaplain and curate, I am very much aware of how overwhelmed and anxious people are feeling.

“The course was really helpful with excellent and well-informed teachers. We were given a workbook to look at before the course started and we were given lots of time to share stories and discuss areas we didn’t understand. There were lots of breakout sessions and discussions.

“For me, it informed my understanding of mental health. It has given me the courage to offer support to those experiencing mental health difficulties, as well as reach out to those supporting people who are unwell.

It’s not about diagnosing people, but about listening, noticing and signposting people to appropriate support.

“The course gives a framework for how to best support those with mental health issues.

“Everyone’s mental health fluctuates and it’s important not to make judgements or pigeonhole people. This course gave me the confidence and the tools to reach out to people more.”

  1. The Mental Health First Aider two-day course is designed for someone who would like to take on a role after the course of promoting a positive mental health culture and being a point of contact if someone is experiencing mental ill health.
  2. The one-day Mental Health First Aid Champion course is aimed at helping line managers to spot when someone on their team is struggling and know how and when to offer support.

If you’re interested to book the next training course, you can find details of upcoming courses on our website here –>





One thought on “Caring for our communities’ mental health

  1. Many thanks for helpful article.
    Looked for next course but couldn’t see on listed.
    Can you please update us?
    many thanks

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