Belfast Bible College
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Mental Health, the Church and me

  • Course Description

    It is no secret that mental health is the pressing issue of our time, particularly in the current climate. Statistically, many will still turn to their church for help before medical professionals. Therefore, there is a responsibility for us to respond well, giving the best care we can. Yet, all too often we can feel overwhelmed, unsure and ill-equipped. This course offers to help with that! We will learn from experts in the field of mental health, who work in psychiatry, the NHS and the public square, theologians and senior medical practitioners. We will ask together the questions: How do we serve well those who struggle with mental health? How do we share the love of God in ways which are tangible, practical and life-giving? How can we learn more about what it means to be disciples? And finally, how do we respond faithfully to the challenges of a world in the throes of a mental health crisis?

  • Lecturer

    Dr Joy Allan, Dr Stephen Critchlow and Dr Phil Andrew

    Dr. Joy Allan is our practical Theologian and will be hosting the online teaching each week.

    Dr. Stephen Critchlow trained in medicine at Cambridge and King's College Hospital, London, and in Psychiatry at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London and in Northern Ireland. He worked as a consultant psychiatrist in Northern Ireland for several years and retired a few years ago. He has been a church pastor in Galway, London and Cyprus. He is married with five adult daughters and five grandchildren. He enjoys walking and playing chess. In 2016 he published, 'Mindful of the Light- Practical help and spiritual hope for mental health'.

    Dr. Phil Andrew is a consultant psychiatrist who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He gained his MBChB (2010) from the University of Aberdeen, where he also undertook a Masters in Practical Theology and Christian Ethics (2009) with a dissertation focusing on how different definitions of personhood affect medical ethical decision-making. Since graduating he has worked in a number of different areas of mental health, most recently spending five years working with older adults with mental health problems. His current interests are around how we understand depression and anxiety from a theological perspective and how we can equip the church to better respond to the challenges that these experiences raise.

  • Full Course Description

    Week 1 (Dr. Phil Andrew)
    We will begin by asking the question 'What is mental health?' We will begin by grounding ourselves more generally in the concept of mental health as understood by doctors, psychiatrists etc. We will  Problems with current ways of thinking about mental health, considering the ways in which both purely secular and some common Christian ways of thinking about mental health are incomplete and unhelpful.

    Week 2 (Dr. Phil Andrew)
    We will then ask the question, 'How can we begin to think theologically about mental health?' We will propose a better theological approach to mental health. We will ask what tools the church has for helping our mental health and that of others? We will discuss the importance of community, lament, and hospitality.

    Week 3 (Dr. Joy Allan)
    What can the church then do about this? Last week we discussed the idea that 'the church should tell a better story.' What do we do when the church tells a bad story, one which directly impacts and affects those who are suffering? We will begin by considering some of the theological reasons why this could happen and will then move to practical considerations of how we can improve and develop in this area.

    Week 4 (Dr. Stephen Critchlow)
    What is Depression and how is it treated?

    Depression is very common and many Christians suffer from depression.
    What exactly is Depression and how can it be treated?
    Some Old Testament characters. How did God meet them in their low mood states?

    Week 5 (Dr. Stephen Critchlow)
    Anxiety and Stress Management.

    How does anxiety affect our minds, bodies and relationships?
    Dealing with stress in our lives.
    Finding God’s help in anxious and stressful times.

    Week 6 (Dr. Stephen Critchlow)
    Understanding and Coping with Addictions

    What is the biological nature of Addiction?
    Breaking the patterns of Addiction
    The Christian community and Addiction

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