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'Go gently, be kind, stay connected': Christian charity gives advice as NHS mental health beds near capacity

by Chantalle Edmunds

A Christian charity, Kintsugi Hope, that works with churches to improve mental health, has urged us to adopt a three-pronged approach in a bid to improve our mental health during the pandemic.

It comes as experts have warned NHS mental health beds in England are too full and patients are going without vital care.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says services are so stretched, that patients are going without the treatment they need and more than 600 people are being treated outside of their local area, despite a Government pledge to end clinically inappropriate placements by 2020/21.

Patrick Regan, is CEO and Founder of Kintsugi Hope, he said he isn't really surprised to hear that NHS mental health facilities are struggling:

"I think it'll probably increase because a lot of issues around mental health, particularly young people are picked up at school. And obviously, schools are out at the moment. So I think when the kids go back to school, you'll see another surge in that. But you've got to remember that mental health services were stretched even before the pandemic. So it's, going to be the same now. And it's obviously going to get worse."

Kintsugi Hope groups work in communities through the local church with an attitude of humility "not to judge, fix or rescue, but to come alongside and love one another."

"Sometimes it's really confusing to know where to go, if you need help, actually, it's quite hard to navigate. And so we've been training churches across the UK to run well-being groups on Zoom. Predominantly, some are running in support bubbles. But you know, it's so important that if you're struggling, to get help, there's no shame in struggling at all. And I think it's so important that people ask for help. 

"Now, I think the church has a really important role to play. You know, I've often said that if you've got cancer, you would expect the hospital to do chemo, radiotherapy or the medical intervention, you need to get better. But to get through a cancer journey, you need love community and support. And it's the same with mental health, we can't do what mental health professionals can do and we shouldn't try but we can offer community love and support and anyone will tell you all the GPs that we work with, and the psychologists will tell you how important that is at this time," Regan said.

He added that the church can offer a space for Christians to air their feelings and the bible, especially the Book of Psalms provides, "a reflection of lament in the context of worship."

"You know, people need space, they need to be listened to, I think sometimes, the church will be guilty of preaching at people, when actually they just want to be heard, and  you know, people start to hear the moment they feel heard. And so I think the church can really offer that space.

"But for me, I feel like there's three things, if I could say anything to anyone at the moment, I'd say, go gently, go gently with yourself and go gently with others, you know, assume everyone's doing the best they can, be kind to yourself and be kind to others and stay connected. Wherever you go, go gently, kind and stay connected."

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