Church based mental health services

16424_475514312510883_1273215761_n-1Presented by Revd Paul Collier, Copleston Centre, Peckham


Community Mental Health Project in an inner south London area where local NHS services were poorly accessed by the local community: stigma around Mental Health issues, although located near Maudsley.

History: 1979: union of CofE and non-conformist church enabled financial resources to be realised.  In 2008, an application to `the Big Lottery Fund to support Complimentary and Creative therapies was awarded £450,000 over 5 years, to reach 3,000 people over the period of the grant.

Services offered include exercise, counselling, art therapy (closed 10 week group) + open art studio, music therapy, cooking, and some complimentary therapies. Open groups enable Centre to keep attracting new people to meet funding targets. Cookery Club found to be an easy point of entry. Clients range from those with acute schizophrenia to low-level depression. Variety of services designed to meet people’s needs at different stages of life. Services complement each other and tackle physical, social and emotional needs that can impact on people’s mental well-being.

Inclusive philosophy: ‘We all have mental health and we all have concerns about our mental health from time to time.’

Café sessions found to be more effective than formal appointments in drawing people in.  The Copleston Model of care in the Community creates less stigma than traditional Mental Health services while providing accessible services, with the opportunity for ‘cross fertilisation’ with other activities and for increased social interaction.

Run by volunteers (including counselling).

London Borough of Southwark Inclusion Report indicates that traditional day centre services have not promoted independence and self-directed support. The Copleston model overcomes these concerns.

Hoping to develop Copleston project by establishing satellite centres in other places, while building partnerships with other providers (e.g. the Peckham debt counselling service).


Many advantages of informal, voluntary, church based operations in reaching local people – but are such services viewed with suspicion by local NHS services? Apparently not: referrals come from local CMHT’s, Southwark Carers and some GP’s. Copleston complimentary therapists also employed in South London and Maudsly MHT, where they work with patients and staff.

Does the Copleston project interface with the life of the local church, e.g. in transforming its liturgy, or in educating congregation about mental health? Not much. Settled parish church setting doesn’t lend itself to radical experimentation: many people with mental health concerns prefer traditional Church life/worship

How many church people are involved in the project daily? The Vicar is Centre Manager, but now trying to withdraw. Sense that the Centre is linked to the church, but not deeply interconnected though ‘Copleston together’ project is working to draw the two closer together – e.g., by forming a walking group.

Sustainability: to finance the service it will ultimately need to be commissioned. This means demonstrating savings to the NHS, e.g. in reduced GP time or reduced hospital admissions. It’s all about return on investment.  NEED FOR SOMEONE TO ADVISE CHRISTIAN CHARITIES ON HOW TO APPROACH CLINICAL COMMISSIONING GROUPS WITH THE RIGHT EVIDENCE TO DEMONSTRATE THE COST BENEFITS OF THEIR SCHEMES. There are Brokerage / advocacy, and Research / Evaluation agendas to provide evidence of effectiveness in the form demanded by Commissioning Groups. (Potential problem, no one can know all the 220+ Commissioning Groups).

Would acceptance of commissioning reduce the church’s ability to talk about Jesus? Not to the extent that the Centre is a separate charity where people do not even need to enter the worship space.


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