In the realm of the church where hearts and souls are nourished, the topic of mental health has often remained veiled in silence.
One in four people will be affected by a mental health challenge at some point in their lives, yet the stigma surrounding these experiences often prevents faith communities from responding compassionately and effectively.
Natalie Moultrie, the Care Groups coordinator at Hillcrest Covenant Church, recognized the need for change.
Through prayer and a desire to create safe spaces for people to find support and healing mentally, emotionally and spiritually, the idea for monthly Mental Health & The Church Lunch-N-Learn workshops was born.
This groundbreaking initiative, which will kick off Sept. 30 with the topic of “Why Should the Church Care?”, is aimed at fostering a culture of mental health awareness and support within the church community.
“The goal is now to plant seeds through education and awareness of what mental health is and how we can safely talk about it in church spaces and be better equipped to help one another through life’s challenges,” Moultrie said.
The Lunch-N-Learns are open to any adult (age 18+) who wants to explore the intersection of faith and mental health.
Moultrie explained that participants can expect to gain an understanding of mental health, mental health disorders and the biblical perspective on these issues.
Speakers for the workshops come from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and curriculum comes from The Sanctuary Course, which is a resource designed to engage communities of faith in vital conversations about mental health and mental health challenges.
The sessions empower attendees with knowledge and insights to not only help themselves, but also extend support to family members and fellow churchgoers grappling with mental health challenges.
One of the most crucial aspects of these Lunch-N-Learns is ensuring inclusivity and a stigma-free environment for participants to engage in candid discussions about mental health.
Moultrie emphasized the importance of safety guidelines, which include confidentiality agreements that participants must adhere to. These guidelines also stress the significance of active listening, non-judgmental attitudes, empathy and compassion. By fostering an environment of trust and understanding, the Lunch-N-Learns aim to break down the barriers that have kept mental health in the shadows for far too long.
The commitment to supporting participants does not end with the workshops.
Moultrie shares, “We have lots of resources available to people, especially with our partnership with NAMI, which has support groups available for participants. We will have counselor referrals and book recommendations, and we will work together to assist anyone with next steps.”
The ultimate goal is to establish a spiritual mental health care group where individuals can openly discuss their faith while navigating mental health challenges.
To find out more about the Mental Health & The Church Lunch-N-Learns and to register to attend, visit http://hillcrestcov.org/care-groups/.