Exploring how religious faith and communities can support mental health and wellbeing: the Interfaith Wolverhampton Conference 2018

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On Saturday, HeadStart was delighted to support the Interfaith Wolverhampton Mental Health Conference, with its theme of ‘Perceptions of Mental Health from Different Faiths’.

The conference took place at The Royal School, Wolverhampton, and featured a range of guest speakers from different faith backgrounds, speaking on their understanding of mental health and mental health issues in their faiths, and how faith communities can support local people.

Common themes from the speakers included:

  • the need for faiths to be inclusive, and to recognise and celebrate the individuality of believers

  • the importance of faith and faith communities in providing hope and belonging to people struggling with mental health challenges

The event was opened by the Mayor Of Wolverhampton, Councillor Phil Page. The keynote speaker was Lesley Writtle, Chief Executive of NHS Primary Partnership Trust.

HeadStart mini Ambassadors from All Saints, Blakenhall, Parkfields and Ettingshall tested the knowledge of delegates with their mental health quiz, and shocked them with statistics about the problems faced by young people today. Well done to them!

Other speakers included:

  • The Right Honourable Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton SE

  • Hazel Malcolm from The Health and Emotional Wellbeing Service, City of Wolverhampton Council

  • Louise Franklin from Compton Care

  • Mai Gibbons from HeadStart Wolverhampton

  • Ven. Tejwant Banti (Buddhism)

  • Mr Bhajan Devsi (Sikhism)

  • Mr Toby (Islam)

  • Jayashree (Hinduism)

  • Reverend Emma Louise (Christianity)

Finally, HeadStart Ambassador Cristina shared her ‘live story’ with delegates, describing her journey from first getting involved with HeadStart to now training as a mental health nurse. Thank you Cristina!

The lead organiser of the event was Councillor Jasbinder Dehar, the Vice Chair of Interfaith Wolverhampton.

It was a fascinating and positive morning, and reinforced how religious faith can and should bring people together. Thank you to Interfaith Wolverhampton for organising the conference, and to all the speakers who made it an inspiring event.

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Mental health issues don’t choose people from particular backgrounds. Let’s not lose the moment.

Quotes from Interfaith Wolverhampton speakers:

We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health
Practise contentment and gentleness
We need to interpret our holy books carefully to make sure that we’re not doing harm to people
Being a faith community is about love and compassion and inclusiveness and honesty
The present is important. It’s today. It’s the here and now … spirituality and faith are part of what makes someone unique.
When I meet someone, it’s important not to see them as their illness. What makes them unique? What makes you, you?

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