Healthcare Chaplaincy

Is children's and young people's mental health getting worse?

This is a challenging question, with some worrying trends starting to emerge, so says a recent report from the NHS, as reported on the BBC news.

Many of us experience mental health issues at some stage in our lives and we may know children and young people in our churches and communities who are struggling right now with low esteem, poor mental health and anxiety.

You can read the report from the BBC HERE.

What can we do, as churches?

We can pray for our children and young people. We can pray for the services which support them at times of need.

We can pray for the work of our Free Church Healthcare Chaplains.

We can make our churches spaces where children and young people feel at ease to raise issues affecting them.

Perhaps there are ways that your church could support schools, youth groups and colleges pastorally?

Premier, a Christian broadcasting association have reported recently on this important topic and shared news about Action for Children Blues Programme - there may be activities and support groups as part of this programme running near you.

In your church lobby, why not display a Childline poster so those visiting can get free confidential advice and support if they need to?

Christmas Reflection by Stephen Mugglin

Photo credit:  Freely Christian Photos

I came across the following when seeking out some words of wisdom for a carol service. Stephen Mugglin has captured the essence of ‘peace on earth’ and how there are times when we need to go and find that peace amid the busyness that is a constant presence in our place of work – the healthcare system, and times when we need to create that peace for those in our care.

Debbie Hodge

Christmas Reflection by Stephen Mugglin

High in the woods of Pengrove Pass, where the water and the sky seem to sing the same song, there stands in a clearing beside the lake a little log cabin built by a friend. It stands empty most of the year now, for the children who once played and laughed there have long since moved on. Still there isn’t any sadness, for each morning the dawn catches its own reflection in the stillness of the lake, and peace covers all.

Photo by  Charl van Rooy  on  Unsplash

I was scheduled to spend Christmas in Pengrove Mills, a town further down the river, but an unexpectedly busy autumn and fall had made me long again for the solitude of the mountains, at least for a little while, and so December found me in the cabin by the lake.

Mountains seem to have a wisdom all their own, and trees growing along the slopes in the pure air whisper their thoughts together in the silence. It’s a world of enchantment far and near, for the same snow that paints the distant hills also spreads a blanket over the cabin. Here earth and sky seem so close, mountain peaks just a snow-breath away, and time a cousin of eternity.

Photo by  Ngoc Lan  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ngoc Lan on Unsplash

This was the year I celebrated Christmas twice - once in the cold loneliness of the hills, and later in the warmth of the town - once by myself in the calm of the night, and again with the sound of friends all around - once with the stars shining deep in the lake, and then with bright lights in every window. But much as I enjoyed the time in town, it was the silence around the cabin that reminded me most of the Song of the ages and the Light of the world. Alone on the hillside, I knew the peace that had come to earth.

New report published - On children and young people's mental health

On 22nd November, the NHS published a report concerning the mental health of children and young people across England. You can read the full report HERE.

We will know of children and young people in our churches and communities who have struggled with mental health issues; we may be a young person reading this who is encountering difficulties; we may have youngsters in our own congregations and families who have mental health conditions. This is a concern for us all and so it is important to be aware of the report’s findings and understand some of the issues that our children and young people are facing. There are links below which could help and can be shared with others in need.

Some of the key findings from the report are:

  • One in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017

  • Rates of mental disorders increased with age.

  • Emotional disorders have become more common in five to 15 year-olds 

A recent article in the Premier Christian Media Trust calls for churches to be open to teenagers facing issues. You can read about it HERE and find out where schemes to support young people are currently operating.

The Free Churches Group are committed to supporting member churches and groups engage with issues of the day and find ways in which our free churches can engage more fully in the community, in issues such as education and mental health support. We will be developing these further over the next couple of years so keep an eye out in our FCG newsletters for further information.

There are various networks you can register your support with or join their newsletter circulation list:

  1. Action for Children

  2. “Beating the Blues” Programme

  3. Pray for Schools

  4. Anti-Bullying Alliance

  5. Mind and Soul Foundation

  6. Childline

  7. Festive - the Christian Further Education charity

A blessing Prayer

May the Lord God Bless you each step of Life’s way.

May you learn each day to open yourself to love and the blessings of love. May you find a stick to lean on when the road is hard- and not use the stick to beat yourself. May you be blessed with life's abundance and blessed in poor days too, learning again what really matters, what lasts.

May you never give in to despair or the lie that nothing can change. May you find ways of life and walk them with courage, knowing that every step is within the heart of Christ who holds all our days in love. Amen

© Revd Dr Christopher Jenkins

Lessons learnt from World War One

Photo by  James Harris  on  Unsplash

Amid the destruction and chaos of WW1, and in response to the injuries sustained innovations in medicine and surgical techniques led to much that we take for granted today.

The need for cleanliness in caring for the wounded, the development of blood transfusions, the idea of triage ( the order of treatment dependant on need) are all common place now – if you go to Accident and Emergency Department you will see the Triage Nurse first who will prioritise your care. The National Blood Transfusion Service is now an integral part of our NHS. There was the development of the Thomas splint, for dealing with broken legs and of course the gas mask!

The words Shell Shock were used for those who were suffering from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - the verbal expression of trauma.

Those who declared themselves unable to cope, through shell or combat shock or devastating loss of comrades, were generally treated as malingerers rather than victims.

Few doctors, with the notable exception of W.H Rivers and Arthur Brock at Craiglockhart Hospital for victims of shell shock, explored the verbal expression of trauma. Before 1917, treatment for shell shock involved being forbidden to talk about the war. One officer, treated by Rivers at Craiglockhart, said ‘that it was obvious to him that memories such as those he had brought with him from the war could never be forgotten. Nevertheless, since he had been told by everyone that it was his duty to forget them he had done his utmost in this direction. It was felt that silence settled the mind, and that unpleasant memories could be replaced by means of pleasant activities such as walking and sports. An advertisement in the Pall Mall Gazette (8 May 1919) read: ‘So bury all those unpleasant memories in Dora’s waiting grave … and get your Austin Reed straw hat to signalise the event’ [DORA was the Defence of the Realm Act].

A poem by Cecil Lewis demonstrat1es this aspect of war and reminds us all of not only PTSD, but other mental health issues in society today:

War is never over

Though the treaties may be signed

The memories of the battles

Are forever in our minds

War is never over

So when you welcome heroes home

Remember in their minds they hold

Memories known to them alone

War is never over

All veterans know this well

Now other wars bring memories back

of their own eternal hell

War is never over

For I knew world war two

And I'll not forget the battles

Or the nightmares that ensue

War is never over

Those left home to wait know this

For many still are waiting

It was their farewell kiss

War is never over

Though we win the victory

Still in our minds the battles

No freedom is not free

Revd Debbie Hodge
Secretary for Healthcare Chaplaincy, Free Churches
Project Officer NHS Chaplaincy Project

Free Church Healthcare Chaplains Study Day

Photo by  Nicole Honeywill

Date: Thursday 8th November 2018, 11:00-16:15

Venue: Free Churches House, 27 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HH

Free Church Health Care Chaplains are invited to join the study day at Free Churches House on 8th November 2018.

What to Expect

Photo by  Tim Marshall

Photo by Tim Marshall

The day will include the update information of the Healthcare Chaplaincy, Mental Health First Aid Course (Limited for 16 participants at the cost of £15 for the course materials), the update on Community Chaplaincy and a Prayer Walk. Lunch and refreshments will be provided on the day.


10:30 am Coffee/Tea

11:00 am Welcome

11.05 am Opening Worship

11-15 am Update on National Picture, Regional Meetings and ‘What’s on your agenda?’

12:00 pm Mental Health First Aid Course for up to 16 participants (£15 for the course materials)


Update on Community Chaplaincy

A Prayer walk

4.15 pm Closing remark

I would be very grateful if you could return the completed booking form at your earliest convenience. The booking form is available here. For more information and booking, please contact Thandar at 02036518338 or email at

We look forward to seeing you on 8th November.

Debbie Hodge

Secretary for Healthcare Chaplaincy, Free Churches Group

This information is available to download here.