A Cooperative Inquiry: An investigation into the training needs of Christian leaders supporting congregants with mental health issues receiving treatment

PhD Thesis

Anyinsah, J. 2021. A Cooperative Inquiry: An investigation into the training needs of Christian leaders supporting congregants with mental health issues receiving treatment. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Humanities and Education Studies
AuthorsAnyinsah, J.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDegree of Doctor of Education

The research literature suggests that NHS mental health service providers question the helpfulness of Christian leaders in caring for congregants with mental health issues. The lack of appropriate mental health literacy training means that Christian leaders find it challenging to collaborate with mental health professionals regarding their congregants’ care. However, congregants often seek support from their Christian leaders without additional contact with mental health professionals. The research aim was to identify Christian leaders’ training needs in order to develop a curriculum that addresses those training needs and fosters greater collaboration with NHS mental health services.

The study utilised a cooperative inquiry methodology to explore fifteen Christian leaders’ experiences of providing mental health support for their congregants. They came from different denominational and ethnic backgrounds. It also explored their relationship with mental health services. Bourdieu’s concepts of field, habitus and cultural capital offered a powerful ‘theoretical lens’ for exploring and conceptualising the tension between the medical world of psychiatry and the religious world of the Christian leaders.

The findings suggest that these Christian leaders find themselves ill-equipped to work within what they experience as the ‘hostile’ NHS mental healthcare services and the uncomprehending structures of their churches. Christian leaders felt silenced, isolated, and seen as the problem. Cultivating a new skill is essential if Christian leaders are to meet their congregants’ mental health needs.

The researcher’s contribution to knowledge is to identify a fundamental theological issue and then develop a curriculum that equips Christian leaders to ‘mingle’ with mental health professionals in the NHS by acquiring the knowledge and language necessary to support congregants within this context. The research suggests contextualisation as fruitful theological approach and proposes public theology as a way forward that will enable Christian leaders to communicate effectively within the field of mental healthcare. They will, thereby, be better able to support congregants, and form a stronger partnership with the NHS mental health services.

KeywordsTraining needs; Christian leaders; Supporting congregants
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Publication process dates
Deposited22 Nov 2021
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