New View Project – churches combating mental health stigma

New View project participants - portraits by Peter Hudspith

New View project participants – portraits by Peter Hudspith

Touchstone’s Community Development Team worked in partnership with local churches to investigate how faith communities can work together to raise awareness of mental health issues and to support community members who may be struggling with their own mental health. The project was funded by Time To Change.

The aims of the New View project were:

  • To change attitudes towards Black people with mental health problems.
  • To recruit and work with volunteers to enable them to gain confidence, information and support to talk openly about their mental health experiences.
  • To enable volunteers to facilitate meaningful one-to-one and group conversations with members of African and African Caribbean Churches and communities to challenge common misconceptions and stigma.
  • To work with artists from Inkwell (creative mental health project in Leeds) and partner churches, their congregations and volunteers to create art tackling mental health stigma, to be displayed in churches.

Stephanie Lewis, who led on the project for Touchstone said: “We really want the people of Leeds, particularly those from the African and African Caribbean communities, to have the chance to find out more about mental health by talking to someone with personal experience. Just a few small words can make a big difference to someone with a mental health problem and talking about the issue can help to break down the stigma and discrimination. Thanks to Time to Change funding we hope we can really make a difference and end mental health discrimination in our local community.”

The project has created the New View Worship Pack to give suggestions to church leaders and members about how to make mental health an active topic of conversation in their communities – something people can talk about without fear or embarrassment.

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