The state of the nation’s mental health doesn’t make for easy reading. 

Rates of depression have doubled since the beginning of the pandemic, one in six children between the ages of five and 16 are thought to have a mental illness, and suicide rates have been rising since 2018. Such stark and tragic statistics can make us feel helpless, wondering how on earth we begin to respond and what difference we can make amidst such hopelessness. 

The gospel is a living story of hope, but sometimes our churches don’t know how to communicate that message of hope into the abyss of mental illness. This is where we hope the mental health friendly church project will come in, supporting churches alongside other organisations also working to raise awareness and compassion for mental health and mental illness. We believe that building a mental health friendly church is not only possible, but it’s an imperative as we seek to bind up the brokenhearted and serve our communities.


We are starting this project by asking the church about their attitudes towards mental health and mental illness through a research project we’ve undertaken with Theos. We want to better understand the landscape before we begin to build anything, recognising that we must first acknowledge mental illness and difficult emotions before we can approach becoming mental health friendly’.

Sometimes, however, this process of acknowledging the darkness and difficulty of the landscape doesn’t feel like a natural fit with evangelism — aren’t we meant to be people of the good news?

And yet throughout scripture we see everyone from the prophets to Paul making clear assessments about the world we live in and the situations we’ve found ourselves in, then persisting in pointing to the hope found in Jesus. 

"We believe that building a mental health friendly church is not only possible, but it’s an imperative as we seek to bind up the brokenhearted and serve our communities."

In his letter to the Romans in chapter 8:18 – 21, Paul writes, I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

Paul confronts the issues we face as humanity, he doesn’t shy away from the bondage to decay’, but he still points forward to the hope we have in Jesus.

I believe this is the work of becoming mental health friendly churches. While we await the findings of the research before embarking on more specific work, we need to start talking about the whole spectrum of mental health, from the cultivation of positive mental health, to how we support those struggling with their mental health or living with severe mental illness. And as a local church, you have a vital role to play in this movement towards the UK church becoming mental health friendly.

Perhaps for your church, the first step is to get involved World Mental Health Day on 10 October. This could be an opportunity to commit to regularly including intercessory prayers for those struggling with their mental health and the services that work hard to support them? 

Could you run a Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Group, offering a welcoming space for those who want to better understand God’s design for wellbeing? Are you committed to listening to the stories of Christians living with mental illnesses in order to understand the reality of what many face on a daily basis?

Maybe the first step for you and your church is simply checking in with those in your congregation and community who need extra help, offering practical support like taking a meal or going for a walk together. 

We cannot fix the mental health crisis by ignoring it; but equally, we shouldn’t try to do everything at once. Instead, we need to seek wisdom in the best ways to confront stigma and make sure that as the church, we are willing and prepared to reach out to those who are struggling.