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Mental Health: An integral part of Spiritual Well-being and Evangelism

Evangelist Winston Webber

South London Mission, Bermondsey Methodist Church

09 May 2023

I started my post-graduate career as an Economic Development Specialist at the United States Agency for Economic Development, USAID, in Sierra Leone from 1980 until I came to London in 1998 when I gained employment at The South London Mission of the Methodist Church in Bermondsey.

In carrying out my Ministry as an Evangelist, I combine my work experience in Social and Economic Development in local communities together with that which I gained as a Social Worker within and outside the church, namely Evangelism.

In Partnership with PRiSM

When on a Saturday afternoon in December, 2020, Sanchika Campbell, whom I have never seen or met before, contacted me by phone, inviting me to be a peer-researcher for her PhD project: To understand the role of faith in coping with adversity, and its relationship to mental health and help- seeking among members of Black Majority Churches in South-East London.

This was a Blessing, not in disguise but in real form. The purpose of the project contains a subject matter that has been of great concern to me throughout my ministry as an Evangelist. Have we, Faith and Religious Leaders, succeeded in meeting the mental health needs or are we providing adequate mental health support to to those of our members in need of such support through our worship, spiritual or evangelical outreach programs? I was not sure. Then came the eye-opener on becoming a peer-researcher at the PRiSM project. There, I was fortunate, at the age of 65, to have the privilege and opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with young brilliant researchers in mental health; also social care professionals in mental health, community health care workers and faith leaders in Zoom meetings, face to face seminars and at times through direct telephone conversations.

The sharing of clinical and academic knowledge coupled with practical experiences was a very effective form of learning for me. I became aware of the various types of mental health disorders, their characteristics, the circumstances that might lead to them and their signs and symptoms.

The impact of this project

Prior to my involvement with the PRiSM Project, I have been raising awareness in Prostate Cancer as I am a Prostate Cancer Survivor. Being diagnosed with Cancer does bring with it anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. My involvement with the PRiSM Project has led me to expand my Men’s Health Awareness activity at the South London Mission at Bermondsey Methodist Church in South East London to include mental health awareness, its coping mechanisms and sources from where clinical assistance could be obtained. The South London Mission, has already granted me room space to expand my men’s awareness program to include coping mechanisms for those in need of mental health support.

My appreciation

The Prism Project has been of immense assistance to me in enlightening me of the various types of mental health disorders. The PRiSM project has not only rekindled my desire to get training in mental health, it has also provided me with essential information on sources from where professional assistance could be obtained.

I remain an Evangelist, not a Professional Mental Health Care Specialist, but thanks to The PRiSM Project, I am now better equipped to assist members of my congregation in coping with adversity such as anxiety, depression.

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