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    New Program Helps Churches Provide Mental Health Support in UK

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    A national charity in the UK launched a new program that will offer grants to churches and Christian organizations so they can provide mental health support in their communities.

    The pandemic has affected everyone around the world. People have been dealing with Covid-19’s impact on their lives and livelihood for two years but experts believe that there are many long-term effects on people’s mental health that must be addressed, too.

    The government and the medical community have focused their energy and resources on dealing with patients suffering from the SARS-like respiratory disease, but for people who feel lonely, restless, or unhappy, support services are limited.

    Benefact Trust, one of UK’s largest grant-making trusts, created a thematic grants program called Brighter Lives which will answer the various needs for mental health support. Brighter Lives will focus on helping Christian organizations take care of people dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression caused by the pandemic, reports Premier Christian News.

    According to the Trust’s website, the program covers three project areas:

    • Support existing or emerging specialist services provided by churches and Christian charities for people struggling with mental health issues, whatever the faith, or none.
    • Train Christian organizations to provide mental health first aid and appropriate support groups and services.
    • Programs to support the mental health and wellbeing of clergy and other church leaders and personnel who may be suffering.

    State of mental health in the UK

    Experts revealed that the number of referrals in need of mental health care reached a record high in England in 2021, reports BBC.

    The National Health Service (NHS) reported 4.3 million referrals for conditions such as anxiety and depression. What’s more bothersome is almost a quarter, or 1.025 million, were for children or adolescents.

    The NHS attended 1.83 million care contacts for mental health consultations during December 2021, but about 1.4 million people are still waiting for treatment.

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists warned that they are overwhelmed with the demand for mental health support. The president of the college, Dr. Adrian James, said, “The warning of the long tail of mental ill health caused by the pandemic has not been heeded. Staff are working flat out to give their patients the support they need but the lack of resources and lack of staff mean it’s becoming an impossible situation to manage.”

    The UK government announced that they are investing an additional $3 billion (£2.3 billion) a year into mental health services by 2023/24.

    Brighter Lives to make a difference

    Benefact Trust recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It has awarded $131 million in grants in the last five years.

    Benefact Trust understands the important part the church plays in helping the community. With Brighter Lives, the Trust hopes to equip churches and charities in making a positive difference in society. Training and resources will be available so local churches can support the most vulnerable people in this pandemic.

    Those interested in availing of the grant can apply through the Benefact Trust website. There is a guideline on how to apply for funding.

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