UK charities warned earlier this year that the easing of lockdown is likely to trigger anxiety for many people around the country, for a range of reasons. As Christians, how can we support those within our churches and in our communities struggling with mental health issues during re-entry, perhaps including our own selves? Three of our members (a church and two charities) share their recommendations.

David Taylor, pastor at Thatcham Baptist Church

Kate (not her real name) is a member of my church. She’s been a Christian for many years and has also suffered with her mental health all that time. A lifeline for her during the pandemic has been the Renew Wellbeing group that has run on Monday mornings, either on Zoom or in person, according to what’s permitted.

As churches gather in person once more, many of us are longing for a good old sing. But lively worship services can be alienating for those with anxiety or depression, so Renew provides a place to meet others in a low-key atmosphere. The strapline is a place where it’s OK not to be OK’. Some people chat, others read the paper, knit, draw or have a coffee. And there’s a chance to engage in a few minutes’ quiet prayer if you want.

Kate says, I love Renew. I can totally be myself. I can join in with conversation but I can also isolate myself whilst still in the room. It’s also got me into praying. I love just listening to the chatter in the background. It’s like I’m alone but not alone – perfect. It’s my perfect place.’


Could you consider running or recommending a Renew Wellbeing group for those in your church or community who want to connect with others but are not quite ready for full-on gatherings? For more information see www​.renewwell​be​ing​.org​.uk.”

Lade Olugbemi, convener, The NOUS

Christians can be more loving to their neighbours during this time by offering practical support and being genuine in the support being offered. We need to show the love of Christ even more.

Because of the various emotional experiences we may have had during the pandemic, we may have the tendency to want to be insular and just to look at our own needs. One of the greatest commands of Christ to us as His followers is to love other people as we love ourselves.

First and foremost, one of the ways in which we can support those who may be experiencing mental ill-health during this very precarious time is by removing the stigma that we have in our community, especially the Christian community, around what mental ill-health is.

We need to raise awareness in various churches about what it is, understand what the signs and symptoms are, as well as the various services that we have in our community that people can refer themselves to when they are struggling.

It is important that we make sure that people who have mental ill-health are able to recognise and understand that the church is a safe place where they will not be judged.

My second recommendation is the need for leaders in Christian churches to be trained. I am a mental health first aid instructor and I believe that every leader in every church should be a mental health first aider. What this will empower you to be able to do is: know what the signs of the most common mental health issues are; offer support in the first instance; and signpost to the appropriate services that people can go to when they have any issues around their mental well-being.”

The NOUS exists to empower people with the knowledge needed to better understand mental health and raise awareness about mental health in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Rachael Newham, mental health friendly church project manager, Kintsugi Hope

The first thing to be mindful of is the way we use scripture; anxiety is in the Bible, from Adam and Eve discovering their nakedness in Eden, to Jesus’ sweat falling like drops of blood’ in Gethsemane. It’s easy to think of verses such as do not be anxious’ (Philippians 4:6) but we can’t use them as sticking plasters for anxiety disorders.

Anxiety in and of itself is our body’s physiological response to threat — and so we do need it in our lives. What scripture does point us towards, however, is bringing our worries and anxieties before God in prayer. We see this in Philippians 4:7 which assures us that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’.

Let’s be giving space for the prayers of the anxious and laments to be heard in our churches without a rush to fix things, whether during our services or by running something like a Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Group.

We also need to be mindful that people will be returning to normal life at different paces and be patient with those who need more time to adapt to being at in-person church. In unprecedented times, we need unprecedented levels of the grace and gentleness of God as we re-emerge, and the church can be a place which models this to the wider community.”

The member church and organisations above are passionate about speaking into this issue and supporting those struggling with mental health. For more on how your church can help, please check out Salt and light in a mental health crisis, in which our advocacy researcher Jo Evans explores further how Christians should respond to the mental health crisis.