Another important way in which you can prevent suicide is by working to create communities in which people enjoy good mental health. This reduces the chances of people getting into difficulties that they are unable to cope with on their own. You can do this by promoting positive mental health in many ways, such as through information sharing, awareness raising, activities, sermons, special services and in how you approach pastoral care.
Positive mental health is a sense of wellbeing and the ability to live a full life with the inner strength to cope with the challenges that life presents and the outer resources to support us in doing this.
Having good mental and emotional health includes being happy with who you are, having fulfilling relationships, being flexible enough to learn new things, being able to adapt to change, being able to manage stress and ‘bounce back’ from difficulties, having the ability to think realistically, having a positive outlook on life, having access to help and being able to ask for help when you need it.
Key skills are being able to balance our emotions, recognise our feelings and express them appropriately. These skills help us to avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety or other negative mood states. It is also important not to be alone and to have a good support network of trusted people we can turn to.
To strengthen the mental health of a community we have to consider how to improve the health of individuals and the community.
As a church leader and a local church you may want to consider the following questions regarding your role in promoting positive mental health.
- What can we do to increase the resilience of individuals and to strengthen their life skills and their coping skills?
- What information, support services, activities and training opportunities are there that we can promote and raise awareness of in our community?
- How can we help to increase social support and social inclusion?
- How can we help to make our community a safer place to live in?
- How can we promote positive mental health in our church and church activities (e.g. church based youth work)?
- How can we help people to enjoy good mental health?
- What can we do to reduce discrimination, inequalities and stigma around mental illness?
- What can we do to help improve access to services and supports?
- What can we do to help improve housing and employment opportunities in our community?
- What is the unique role the church can play in promoting positive mental health?