Churches can make a real difference to the mental wellbeing of their parishioners, according to a guide published yesterday by the Church of England and the charity 'mentality'. The guide, Promoting Mental Health: a resource for spiritual and pastoral care, gives practical advice to church groups on how to offer support to people with mental health problems and to tackle some of the causes of mental distress. The guide was tested out in parish groups across England. In Guildford, for example, a special church service was held for World Mental Health Day last year, including a dance performance and a poetry reading by a girl with severe depression. Speaking at the launch of the guide at St Paul's Cathedral, the Rt Revd Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans, said: "The Church has a responsibility to support people's mental as well as their spiritual wellbeing. We know that up to one person in four experiences some kind of mental distress in their life. We need to ensure that churches are welcoming and accepting places for those people to go, however severe the mental health problems they have been through. "I warmly welcome and recommend this new guide to help parishes up and down the country to raise awareness of mental health issues and offer more support to those who experience them." Elizabeth Gale, chief executive of mentality, said: "Being part of a close community can help to promote mental wellbeing. It can also assist recovery among those with mental health problems. For many people, faith groups give a sense of belonging and self-esteem. "Our new guide helps church groups to provide the support that their members need to play a full part within their communities. I am delighted we have had the opportunity to work with the Church of England to produce it and am confident it will make a real difference for the people who use it."
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