Faith in Mental Health
Led by Ms Tahseen Mehar

Faith centres support thousands of people in Brent,  As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, faith centres are needed and called upon now more than ever with mental health and wellbeing issues having risen exponentially. Often, a faith centre is the first port of call (if not the sole contact) for someone of faith experiencing mental health challenges, and they are often trusted over health services.

However, whilst Faith Leaders are mostly well rehearsed in responding to such difficulties, they often have received no training, find it difficult to deal with the stigma and misinformation around mental health issues, or do not know where and when to go for further help. This makes it necessary for us to help enhance the capacity and resilience of faith communities in coping with mental health challenges through provision of mental health first aid training, education on existing services and much more. 

" Not since the Second World War have we faced such challenges to mental health as created by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is vital that faith communities are fully inclusive and maximally supportive… with the help of ethically motivated training to enhance awareness and skills. "

Similarly, health services sometimes have a limited exposure to the issues faith communities are experiencing and their respective needs, rendering it difficult to offer high quality professional support to people of faith. We endeavour to help these services adopt faith sensitive approaches to working with people of faith and to help champion the role of faith and spirituality in mental wellbeing and recovery. 

In order to achieve these goals, we are working alongside and in collaboration with services such as Brent Health Matters, CNWL NHS, Brent Council, Public Health, Brent Thrive, Brent Cove, and Rethink Mental Health.

 

Projects and Achievements

Over the last year, we have worked on a number of initiatives to support the mental wellbeing of Brent residents. At the height of the pandemic, we delivered a bespoke programme of multi-faith chaplaincy to Park Royal Mental Health Centre service users, commissioned by CNWL NHS. This was considered a highly valuable service to support patients through their faith and spirituality whilst in acute care. 

In recognition of the increased demand on faith practitioners during the pandemic, we delivered a series of mental health awareness and support workshops, in collaboration with CNWL NHS Health Inequalities and funded by Near Neighbours.

Following a successful Brent Health Matters bid, over the last 8 months we have worked closely with local faith institutions to enhance the capacity and resilience of pastoral care teams and have provided fully funded Mental Health First Aid training to 15 places of worship.  At least 17 places of worship have been trained and subsequently awarded a mental health ‘Friendly Place’ certificate by FaithAction, in recognition of the conscious efforts made to support the mental wellbeing of worshippers.

Alongside this, BMFF has established monthly collaborative partnership meetings between local faith leads and mental health service providers, allowing better connectivity and dialogue of mutual benefit between both sectors.

We are currently in the midst of delivering a series of faith-centred seminars to mental health professionals. These are aimed to improve faith literacy amongst staff, to ensure that local services can be better tailored to people of faith and to introduce key practises employed by local faith leads.

 If you would like to find out more or to get involved in the project, please contact tahseen@brentmultifaithforum.org.uk

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