Lifeline training aimed at helping churches

05 March 2024

A new mental health well-being programme being delivered to northern region Presbyterian churches by Lifeline is proving to be a major success. 

Presbytery Liaison Manager for Presbyterian Support Northern, Rev Sharon Ross Ensor, says church congregations are dealing with the same pressures and stresses that impact people’s health and well-being that the rest of the community face. 

“Some of our people also support others in their church or local community who are struggling with financial pressures, health concerns, loneliness, grief or mental health issues. The opportunity to support the well-being of our congregations and their wider community through this programme has been wonderful. The feedback we’ve received from those who did the course was that they found it really worthwhile.

“This course was ideal for people who are ‘natural connectors’, those who already play an active role in community-facing activities within or beyond the church or provide pastoral care to their congregations.”

Called the Community Wellbeing Initiative, the mental health and well-being programme was designed by Lifeline’s training arm, Lifeline Connect.

It enables participants to recognise and respond to stress and distress in both themselves and others, says Lifeline Connect Manager, Stephen Bell.

“Our training is designed to provide participants with the skills to look after their own well-being while being able to confidently enter into supportive conversations with people within their church and wider community during times of stress, distress or crisis.”

The programme includes two in-person workshops, pre and post-workshop online sessions, and an online group follow-up session two months after workshop completion. Additional support is provided through Lifeline’s Debrief Line, a dedicated participant helpline run by experienced Lifeline counsellors. All training and support is facilitated by Lifeline’s clinically trained staff or experienced educational facilitators.

Training sessions have been held in Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Whakatāne and Whangārei, with over 90 people attending so far.

Find out more about the Lifeline Connect programme here.

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