Ridge­mount United Church launches na­tional coun­selling pro­gramme

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Ta­mara Bai­ley Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

MANDEVILLE, Manch­ester: THE CHURCH plays a num­ber of roles, and among them be­ing as a moral compass and a site of refuge for many in­di­vid­u­als who are hurt­ing and in need of re­for­ma­tion.

The Ridge­mount United Church, in part­ner­ship with the Ec­u­meni­cal Group of Churches, has recog­nised one such role and has launched its Na­tional Men­tal Health Coun­selling Pro­gramme, of­fer­ing aid to in­di­vid­u­als in churches, schools, and the wider com­mu­nity suf­fer­ing from men­tal in­sta­bil­ity.

While the root cause of a per­son’s men­tal ail­ment can­not al­ways be de­tected and man­aged from the on­set, the church be­lieves the sit­u­a­tion can still be reme­died and an es­ca­la­tion into other prob­lems can be pre­vented.

Mayor Brenda Ram­say, who was present for the re­cent launch, ac­knowl­edged that such an ini­tia­tive was a much-needed so­lu­tion to a grow­ing mal­ady.

“We are acutely aware of the grow­ing num­bers of per­sons who are strug­gling with men­tal is­sues. Cit­i­zens have been en­cour­aged to talk it out in­stead of fight­ing it out, and we have ac­tu­ally

been into a A num­ber of coun­sel­lors and psy­chol­o­gists from var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­sti­tu­tions were en­gaged in a work­shop af­ter the launch. Coun­sel­lor Tede­cia Co­leyPow­ell con­ducted the work­shop. num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties where we have trained per­sons to be first re­spon­ders; but there has al­ways been the need for more pro­fes­sional coun­sel­lors to sup­port the ef­fort.” Ram­say ad­mit­ted that as the health depart­ment grap­ples with in­ad­e­quate re­sources to deal with these cases, this pro­gramme has come at an op­por­tune time. “The many ini­tia­tives of var­i­ous groups, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with yours, will touch a wider cross sec­tion of the com­mu­nity. I ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that we will now have an­other av­enue to ad­dress mat­ters re­lat­ing to men­tal health, but we must work to­gether to make this en­deav­our mean­ing­ful.” Chair­man of the Ec­u­meni­cal Group of Churches, Church Site Coun­selling Ini­tia­tive, Dr. Au­drey Pot­tinger, ad­mit­ted that it was never easy deal­ing with those who have a men­tal ill­ness as a per­son may not al­ways have con­trol of his emo­tional well-be­ing.

How­ever, she stated that the ini­tia­tive is to help per­sons re­alise that there is no shame in seek­ing help.

SYS­TEM­ATIC CHANGE

“I be­lieve that pray­ing to God for help will go a far way, but it may not be suf­fi­cient to achieve the sys­tem­atic change in be­hav­iour that is re­quired for per­sons to be good part­ners, par­ents, chil­dren,” she said.

The Ec­u­meni­cal union is made up of sev­eral de­nom­i­na­tions, in­clud­ing: Bap­tist, Angli­can, Catholic, and the United churches, and so far, five churches across the is­land have been se­lected as coun­selling sites.

The pro­gramme em­ploys the ser­vices of trained psy­chol­o­gists, psy­chi­a­trists, and coun­sel­lors who work with vol­un­teers in of­fer­ing one-on-one, hour-long ses­sions at each site.

Coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist, men­tal health nurse, and coun­selling site man­ager at the Ridge­mount United Church Deanette Wat­son-Ed­wards told Fam­ily & Re­li­gion how the pro­gramme fur­ther works.

“It is ba­si­cally free, but the church asks for a con­tri­bu­tion of $1,000 per ses­sion for those who can af­ford it, but no one is turned away. Some­times we ex­ceed the hour be­cause peo­ple come in and they just want to talk. We may end up do­ing 20 hours per week. We do one-on-one ses­sions, cou­ples ses­sions and fam­ily ses­sions.”

She con­tin­ued: “The pro­gramme was of­fi­cially launched to­day (Oc­to­ber 28), but we started ses­sions in July of this year. We want peo­ple to know they have an av­enue through which they can talk about their is­sues. It is kept con­fi­den­tial and we are non-judge­men­tal. We re­spect back­grounds and val­ues and we don’t im­pose (our be­liefs) on any­one.”

To sched­ule an ap­point­ment with a coun­sel­lor, one may call 962-2392.

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