Faith communities promote “safe spaces” to discuss health issues
“Churches should not shy away from discussing health issues. The more we remain in denial, the more we end up promoting a culture of silence,” said Dr Sr Elizabeth Vadakekara fromIndia, representing the Medical Mission Sisters inLondon.
Dr Vadakekara was speaking at a World Council of Churches (WCC) consultation addressing the theme “Safe Spaces – transforming faith communities”, held January 16–18 at the Ecumenical Centre inGeneva.
“We need to have open and inclusive dialogue on mental and physical health issues, so that we can create safe spaces, where communities can express their concerns in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust,” she added.
The event brought together twenty-five participants, representing churches and religious agencies from around the world, with experience in a variety of fields, including healthcare delivery, gender issues, human rights, advocacy against gender based violence and HIV/AIDS.
To challenge the taboos associated with disease, to sponsor confidential places in which sensitive issues can be explored without judgment and to equip churches in creating safe spaces in their communities, the consultation was initiated by the WCC Health and Healing programme in collaboration with Women in Church and Society and Youth in the Ecumenical Movement.
They discussed a wide spectrum of issues, ranging from mental health, cancer, death, stigma associated with diseases, gender based violence, abuse and sexuality. Various case studies were shared and participants analysed the complexities and difficulties communities face in dealing with health issues.
Participants stressed the need for creating safe spaces within families, congregations and communities. They also included government and leadership, essential to building healthy communities through positive policy-making and implementation. READ MORE