On 26 April 2020, the Grace in Mental Health team distributed a survey across the International Congregation with questions addressing different aspects of mental health. There were 3 primary purposes to this survey:
i) We wanted to assess the level of interest of our congregation in mental health.
ii) We wanted to know what areas of mental health the congregation is interested in.
iii) We wanted to learn how we can best care for those in the congregation who have experienced or are experiencing mental health concerns.
We are most grateful for the 43 people who responded to the survey and shared their views on such a personal topic. This was a survey which touched upon some sensitive questions, however it proved to be very helpful towards educating the team on the views of the congregation on mental health. Upon reviewing all the responses, the following are several observations which I would like to share:
- It is very encouraging to know that there is significant widespread interest in mental health, as 93% of respondents indicated they are interested in learning more about mental health, with 84% expressing interest in attending mental health events once church resumes. From my personal experience, I have observed that mental health is a topic that is approached with greater hesitation compared to other facets of life, which consequentially makes it more difficult to engage in dialogue relating to the mental wellbeing. Our knowledge on the spiritual and physical facets of life is cultivated through commitments such as church attendance and tertiary education respectively, however there are limited forums which allow the opportunity to learn more about the mental health facet. The above statistics are a clear indication that there is a widespread desire amongst the congregation to develop a deeper understanding into mental health; and we as a team will strive to facilitate that process through initiatives such as this blog!
- 84% of respondents are interested in learning about anxiety whilst 77% are interested in depression. This is understandable considering the prevalence of anxiety and depression amongst the intense school, university and workforce environments, not to mention the widespread uncertainty and adjustments in lifestyle arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. When further taking into consideration that a majority of respondents expressed interest in reading educational posts on mental health conditions, you can rest assured that the team will address these topics in our posts to raise awareness on these sensitive matters.
- 65% of respondents are interested in reading personal testimonies from people who have experienced mental health concerns. I have always enjoyed reading / listening to someone share their personal testimony, and am particularly encouraged by the respondents who have expressed interest in sharing their testimony on this blog. One of the barriers to people opening up about their mental health is the belief that they are alone and that no one else understands their struggles. Fortunately, personal testimonies can often serve as timely reminders that there are others who have encountered similar challenges and have undergone similar experiences, which in turn may encourage more people to open up and share about their experiences. Therefore, if there is anyone who is interested in sharing a testimony about their mental health, please let one of the Grace in Mental Health team members know about your interest, and we will definitely find a week for you to share your testimony on this blog!
- Finally, 67% of respondents indicated that they have experienced challenges with mental health, with this number potentially going as high as 88% when you factor in those who responded with ‘unsure’ and those who did not respond to this question. Whilst you may be feeling rather startled at this statistic, I believe this is a tremendous encouragement as it sends a clear message to everyone in the congregation who has struggled with their mental health: You are not alone, and you will never be alone. I vividly recall a young Enoch wondering whether there was anyone around church or at school who also experienced severe symptoms of anxiety and OCD. There is one thing I know for sure: I certainly would have felt relieved to know that I was not alone in my struggles, and would have been encouraged to know that there are others around who do understand.
From this survey, I learnt that the congregation has the interest and desire to cultivate their understanding of mental health, and that there are many who will feel encouraged by the sharing of personal testimonies from those who have struggled with their mental health. Furthermore, I learnt that there are many in this congregation who understand the difficulties of mental health concerns, given the proportion of respondents who have experienced such challenges in their lifetime. Ultimately, the team is deeply appreciative to those who took the time to respond to this survey, as it allows us the opportunity to better understand the needs and wants of this congregation when it comes to mental health. In the meanwhile, please continue to pray for the team and one another, as we strive to collectively create a supportive, godly safe space where people can feel comfortable sharing and seeking help about their mental health concerns.
by Enoch Hui