Mental Health Day focuses on social media and young people


The Diocese of Chester hosted its annual Mental Health Day on Friday 5th October. Held at St Peter's, Elworth, around 100 delegates gathered to discuss mental health issues. The day had a particular focus on the mental health of young people. 

Jonathan Masters is the Youth, Children and Families Missioner in the Diocese of Chester and coordinated the day. He said: "The aim of the day is to learn about mental health and young people and to find out more about their lives and what it's like to experience mental health problems as a young person, but also how we can help and support young people who are experiencing problems."

Revd Tina Upton


The Revd Tina Upton, Rector of Chester Holy Trinity without the Walls, opened the day by providing a Theological Framework for the discussions. Before ordination, she was a child and adolescent psychiatrist. She says that poor mental health among young people is a growing issue and is in part down to the "toxic mix" of young people trying to develop a sense of self and the exposure they have to social media: "Social media can be used for a force for good but when it goes wrong it can go extremely badly wrong. Social media was never around when I was practising 20 years ago but now it is a huge problem. It's all about ultimately developing a sense of identity, a strong idea of who I am and who I am not. Ultimately our identity is in Christ. God has a view of who we are, God made us in the first place, he made us in his image. He has a picture of what we're able to do. He knows us and loves us better than we know and love ourselves. He knows what our potentials are."

L to R: Deb Gibson, Jared Brown, Jonathan Masters, Luke Blakeley, Rebekah Davies

Rebekah Davies is a Children and Youth Ministry Trainee at St. Mary's, Cheadle, she says she has not dealt very well with the pressures of social media in the past: "I'm not a good example of dealing with it well, but I think having that church support and the family support you get from being a Christian was really helpful. But there's a lot of pressure: the stress that education puts on you, that was a big factor; that acceptance you want from friends, that was a massive factor for me...God has shown me what it is to be loved, to be a part of a wider Church family... I can be so confident when I walk out of the door that I have a father in heaven who loves me, who created me to be me and has a purpose for me... I can be encouraged by that."

The Revd Tina Upton says that professional services are important and that alongside that, the Christian faith can provide young people with hope: "Part of the hope you can give to a young person with a mental disorder, is not to cut away from the psychiatric treatment they might need because actually, God is at work through the services and the mental health treatments, but aside from that we can give young people hope by saying actually, you might not have a very big view of yourself, but God has a much bigger view of you, and God loves you perfectly and has all sorts in store for your life." 

Workshops on the day focused on issues such as poverty, self-harm, social media, isolation and understanding suicide. Workshops in the afternoon focused on the tools and resources that youth workers and church leaders could use to build resilience, develop wellbeing, mentor young people with mental health issues, and to respond better as a community. 

If you want to find out more or would like advice on how to deal with the issues of poor mental health and young people in your church, contact Jonathan Masters





Page last updated: 26th Oct 2018 11:22 AM