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UK News

Only 1 in 5 Christian parents think Church should have big role in children's mental wellbeing

by Tola Mbakwe

A new study has found that only one in five Christian parents believe churches have a major responsibility to protect the mental health and wellbeing of their children. 

The research, which was commissioned by Christian children's charity World Vision UK and the non-profit fostering agency Northpoint Care, revealed that Christian parents were more likely to identify teachers (54 per cent) and their wider family (53 per cent) as being most responsible for their children's mental health, outside of the parents themselves.

CEO of World Vision Mark Sheard told Premier by dismissing the value of how churches can boost mental health, families are missing out. 

"Children's wellbeing depends on three things. I think it depends on physical wellbeing, and mental wellbeing. And somewhere in the midst of that, this soul wellbeing and I think that the churches can bring a unique perspective on that," he said. 

"From our work around the world, we know that faith communities and church leaders have a vital role to play during epidemics and other crises. We've been working in those types of situations all around the world and we've seen the damage that they do to children particularly."

The study also found that Christian parents were most likely to be concerned about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their children's education and learning (57 per cent), mental health (50 per cent) and physical health (51 per cent), with fewer showing concern for the impact on relationships with existing friendships (44 per cent).

Elijah Kirby, CEO of Northpoint Care said: "The Church should be a key player in advocating for children and providing safe spaces through which children of all backgrounds can thrive. Now, more than ever, our churches need to be equipped to help families and their children recognise the trauma many of us have been through and be resourced to make sure we build the resilience our children need to develop in healthy way."

The research comes as the British Medical Association (BMA) warns mental health services could face a post-Covid-19 crisis with a rise in demand as lockdown eases. 

In a paper on the impact of Covid-19 on mental health provision, the BMA said services could face an influx of existing patients whose care has been delayed, as well as a rise in people developing mental health issues for the first time.

Churches interested in resources to help address wellbeing of children click here.

Listen to Premier's interview with Mark Sheard here: 

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