Building Resilience

As we face social stress as part of the recession, how can we build resilience - how can we make people more likely to be effective? A faith perspective has key things it can bring - well functioning faith communities, a moral code and a belief that there is 'more to life than this'.

The recession is said to be coming in three stages. We have already felt the Financial Impact of the Credit Crunch, in the future we will feel the Equality Impact - with the risk of seeing classes again in the UK. Right now we are feeling the Social Impact as people feel the pinch personally. With this comes, the threat of homelessness, crime, unemployment and family break-up. All of these are risk factors for mental health problems and we can expect to see levels of these rise.

Some stats for you about our young people especially [from www.youngminds.org.uk]: 80000 teenagers suffer from severe depression, 45% of young people in care and 95% of young people in prison have a mental health problem, and over half of adults with mental health problems date them to have started in childhood. How can we help build the better mental health of tomorrows leaders and tomorrows church? How can we weather this recession mentally.

The triggers and the risk factors are here already, but that is not the entire story. Why is it that one person will develop a mental illness when another similar person won't? Part of the answer lies with how resilient that person is.

Resilient individuals regain balance and keep going despite adversity and misfortune and find meaning amidst confusion and tumult — The Resilience Scale, www.resiliencescale.com

Resilience factors like a sense of humour, a good upbringing are obvious, but studies also show that having a religious faith is a key factor. Research studies have shown that faith reduces general stress, promotes health-improving behaviours, helped adaptation after trauma, recovery from substance misuse and sexual abuse and maintaining a positive attitude to life.

Faith communities add another level of support, as many can be examples of good friendship and networking, showing mutual support and help in times if trouble. They can share burdens and compensate for families who are not able / willing to help.

Within the UK, where Christianity is the most common religion, churches are often seen as the last place to turn. However, the saying that, 'it really must be bad if you have started going to church' is no longer quite so funny as this is a reality for many people today. A belief that there is 'more to life than this' can help us in times of pressure - we may not feel so trapped by time, money and possessions and we may be able to hold more faith that this time we are in will not last for ever.
Rob Waller, 16/08/2009