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Churches encouraged to speak more openly about mental health

by Hannah Tooley

The Methodist Church and other Christian denominations in the North of England are discussing the positive role the church family can play in coming alongside those with depression and encouraging mental well-being.

Philippa Normanton from Christian group Peer Talk is behind in initiative and told Premier the church has a big role to play in helping other people.

"Within the Church, where as Christ's followers we're called to be good neighbours, it's really important that we learn to understand what people go through and how to learn about how we can perhaps signpost people to support."

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Philippa Normanton said that it can be hard for people with mental health concerns to voice how they feel.

She said: "Living with depression sometimes it's hard for me to understand and to vocalise how I'm feeling.

"I think then for other people it's hard for them to ask questions and understand themselves."

Philippa Normanton also said that all that is needed is a listening ear: "A lot of it is listening, you don't have to feel that you know the answers, that you're an expert on mental health.

"It's being there it's being alongside people and it's giving your time as listening and as praying for people and supporting them, as we support each other through life's journeys."

The new initiative aims to establish a national network of volunteer facilitated peer group support meetings through churches for those with mental health issues and their families.

Philippa Normanton said: "Depression and mental health problems are very common but not widely understood.

"This event is designed to help churches use their gifts to support those within their congregations and the wider community who live with the illness."

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Philippa Normanton from Christian group Peer Talk here:

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