World Mental Health Day is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of mental wellbeing and to highlighting areas of particular need and bottlenecks. The theme for this year is “Mental health is a universal human right.” The webinar aimed at exploring options for collaboration between churches and Christian institutions and professional organisations on mental health.
The webinar drew more than 60 participants from Christian health associations, Christian health organisations, church health programmes, regional ecumenical organisations, and more.
Speakers and participants considered questions such as: What are the opportunities and challenges of engaging with faith communities on mental health? What are the areas of convergence and divergence? Where and how can we collaborate?
WCC member churches shared unique examples of how they promote mental health resiliency and awareness.
WCC progamme director for Public Witness and Diakonia Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, reflected on the role of religious communities—in the past and present—on people’s mental health.
“In many ways, religion has sometimes contributed to many health challenges where it has been used to manipulate people,” he acknowledged. “However, in many parts of the world, , religious resources can be used to prevent, to heal, to manage mental health challenges.”
Mtata added: “Christian theology can contribute to different discourses and different worlds through the spiritual lens of Christian scriptures.”
The webinar then proceeded to explore those discourses, fostering audience input and harvesting ideas from mental health professionals.