Introducing our March 2023 conference
Recent years have shone a spotlight on the issue of mental health. Many have linked the impact of the pandemic with a widespread deterioration in our well-being. A whole range of stressors and losses have led to an increase in the incidence of many common mental health problems. This raises all sorts of issues – not only for the provision of pastoral care within our churches but also how we can reach out with the gospel to all those in our communities who struggle with their mental health.
But how well equipped for this task are we? Many feel confused about this area of pastoral care. What, exactly, is meant by the concept ‘mental health’? Is it simply the absence of mental illness or is psychological well-being something we should pursue much as we might seek physical fitness? Many are also uncertain about the way we should relate mental health to spiritual well-being. And about the difference we should expect the gospel of grace to make to those of us who struggle with our mental health.
The Biblical Counselling UK national conference, in March next year, will focus on these things. We will grapple both with questions of understanding and practical implications. We will ask how a biblical framework can help make sense of the experience of mental illness and we will also explore how we can be more effective in providing care and support for one another. With mental distress and suffering a reality for so many, we also want to ask how Christ and the gospel of grace can reach out into our communities and make a difference.
People come to this topic with differing levels of existing knowledge and asking different questions. So, the conference will include separate streams. Four main sessions will seek to provide a framework for approaching these kinds of struggles. Then delegates will be able to choose one of four different streams. The first, and largest, will consider how our church communities can care well for those struggling with their mental health. Other streams will offer input that is specifically targeted for those who serve in church leadership, or as mental health professionals, or as full-time biblical counsellors.
There is a tremendous need for wise and compassionate care to be offered to those who struggle with their mental health. Whatever our role or background, as believers in Christ, we want that care to be distinctly Christian. This conference will help all of us to think more clearly about mental health issues so that we can become more effective in ministering Christ to those of us who struggle. Do join us.