Some of the most prevalent social concerns of our time
Whilst distinct, loneliness and mental ill health are found to be strongly linked. They can exist separately, but may exacerbate the other. Isolation and loneliness can negatively affect your mental health, especially if these feelings last a long time. Mental ill health can also increase feelings of isolation and loneliness if you feel stigmatised or struggle to engage in social activities.
Isolation and loneliness
Loneliness is arguably the most prevalent social concern of our time. A recent survey of church leaders showed that loneliness and social isolation were the most common concern within their community. What’s more, loneliness seems to be getting worse. It is damaging to our physical and mental wellbeing.
Churches in the Diocese of Oxford help to combat loneliness in ways that are both ordinary and radical: lunch clubs, community cafés, ‘knit and natter’ groups, chaplaincies, pastoral care teams, work with food banks, toddler groups and chatting after worship services and Bible study groups.
Most importantly, we overcome loneliness through being faithful disciples in our everyday life: looking out for those who may need company, being generous with our time, and undertaking small acts of kindness which can make the difference between belonging and despair.
- Loneliness: Accident or Injustice? — a publication by the Diocese of Oxford exploring facets of loneliness across all ages, and telling the stories of how churches have responded.
- All the Lonely People — a report exploring the circumstances that lead to loneliness in later life, and how to overcome it.
- A guide to useful publications and reports from the Campaign to End Loneliness.
Find out more
- Archway Foundation — supports those hurt by loneliness through a one to one befriending scheme and regular weekly gatherings.
- Ami — an App to Combat Loneliness, working through existing local charities who vet volunteers and facilitate meet ups.
Lord, You made each of us a fragile ecosystem,
Not entire unto itself,
But vulnerable to disruption by others;
Open, needing, desiring to be loved by others.
Remind us that, just as without food and water
We quickly fade and become weak,
So also, without others we cannot live.
And without you, There is no reason to.
We face many challenges relating to mental health in our communities and within our congregations. Young people have escalating mental health needs, for a complex variety of reasons, and mental health services have been severely cut because of austerity — particularly for those in crisis.
Our gospel vision promises us life in all its fullness, and there are deep resources within our Christian tradition to enable us to make a positive and healing contribution to the world around us.
- The diocese’s basic guide to mental health issues;
- Inclusive Church’s mental health resources;
- A prayer postcard produced by the Diocese of Oxford as a pastoral support for those experiencing mental distress;
- Clergy wellbeing – advice and diocesan policies around wellbeing for clergy;
- Mental Health Foundation – guides on how to look after your mental health.
Find out more
- MIND — a national resource on all aspects of mental health. Particularly useful are their ‘A—Z of mental health’ guidance notes.
With local branches – Oxfordshire Mind, Bucks Mind, Wycombe Mind;
- Kintsugi Hope – Run a Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Group for people who feel or have felt overwhelmed, providing tools for self-management, in a facilitated peer mentoring setting;
- Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries — a Christian charity that prepares the Church to support mental wellness;
- Mental Health First Aid — a training program that teaches members of the public how to help a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem, or in a mental health crisis;
- World Mental Health Day — an international initiative to highlight mental health issues, and combat stigma towards those with mental health needs.
If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger (for example you feel like you might attempt suicide, or someone has seriously harmed themselves) call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E to get medical help.
MIND – more information on receiving advice if you are safe but still in need of urgent advice.
God of compassion,
You meant us to be both fragile and ordinary.
Silence the voices that say we are not good enough,
Haven’t achieved enough,
Haven’t enough to show for our lives,
That we are not enough.
Help us to know that we are treasure,
We are prized, We are cherished, We are loved.
Infinitely. By you.
So be with us in our corrugations of feeling:
When our hearts are in downward freefall, be with us
When our minds race with anxiety, be with us
When our throats close in fear, be with us
When sleep will not come, be with us
When waking hurts, be with us.
In the name of Jesus,
Who knew trauma, abuse, despair and abandonment
And has nothing but love for us,
Prayer by Alison Webster