Ridgemount United Church launches national counselling programme
The church plays a number of roles, and among them are being as a moral compass and a site of refuge for many individuals who are hurting and in need of a 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 the 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 is 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 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."
Mayor 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 is 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 this new initiative is to help persons realise that there is no shame in seeking help.
"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 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 $1000 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 session, couple 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 on anyone (our beliefs)."
To schedule an appointment with counsellor one may call 962-2392.