|Duncan Williams of the Christian Free Press (NewsGroup)|
A FAITH-publisher has spoken out about how religious publications can help those suffering with mental health problems.
Duncan Williams is the founder of Christian Free Press part of larger media company NewsGroup Limited, which delivers magazines in churches across the United Kingdom.
The 52-year-old, from Poole, has worked in the industry for more than two decades.
Now he has highlighted the role that faith publications have in supporting people during difficult times.
He said: “Religious magazines and newspapers are a way to reach people suffering with mental health problems and give them a message of hope."
￼“There is often a stigma about this topic that causes additional and needless pain to both the sufferer and those around them. This can go on for years and through generations."
Mr Williams explained how readers send him letters to express their feelings and talk about grief, after being inspired by stories on religious magazines.
“This is how media can be very helpful to society. Newspapers and magazines give people a chance to speak about grief,” he said.
It was when he was leading talks in hospitals and prisons that he first realised how writing can help people to better express their feelings. "People suffering from war trauma and other forms of PTSD often develop problems with addiction, they drop out of society and too frequently fall foul of the law."
Response to inspirational literature was very positive. Practical reports of how people can rebuild their lives from out of the ruins of drug addiction or depression, in turn help others to do the same.
"I have observed countless people become able to recover and get well."
His experience has made him want to set up a publishing company in a bid to reach more people in need and give them a chance to voice their feelings.
“If people lock their pain it’s not good. For example, my elderly grandfather's suicide was brought about by war trauma at sea that he was never able to talk about. The sinking of the ship he served on and drowning of many comrades and passengers haunted him years after the event."
"Being able to be able to talk about traumatic events is vital to the healing process. Too many former members of the armed forces live haunted lives after being mentally scarred. Conversation can break the isolation."
“Even Prince Harry has recently encouraged people to talk about grief and their mental health” he said.
Mr Williams publishes several magazines and newspapers which are delivered in churches, prisons and rehab centres across the country.
“My experience has been that by delivering beneficial newspaper and magazines through armed forces chaplaincies, a message of hope can be effectively offered and shared. Good communication is a great healer,” he said.
He also stressed that religious magazines must not try to convert vulnerable people.
“ As long as religious people put the needs of genuinely helping others ahead of promoting their religion beliefs, all is good. After all, a faith themed magazine in a hospital or a war zone can lift the spirits, if responsibly presented," he added.
“More help is needed in treating mental health and not just relying on church groups and the well intentioned voluntary sector to muddle on indefinitely.”
(Read the original report by Maria Zaccaro for the (Southern) Daily Echo during Mental Health Awareness Week, 2017.)
Daily Echo report