Podcast Season 4

Episode #12: Will van der Hart

Are we becoming more anxious as a society? And how can following Jesus build resilience in the face of increasing mental fragility?

In our final interview of the season, Jo and Peter are joined by Will van der Hart. Anglican priest, author, coach and pastoral specialist, he brings a breadth and depth of knowledge to conversations surrounding faith and mental health. Having suffered from PTSD and an acute anxiety breakdown following his involvement in the London 2005 bombings recovery, Will is now a leading voice on equipping leaders to look after their emotional health.

This interview covers a lot of ground, spanning from deep theology to psychology to cultural commentary, as well as practical advice on building resilience. Ultimately, Will shares that belonging to Jesus can help us in the way we view our psychological health and our ability to battle shame.

If you would like to explore more of the themes of this episode, do check out Christian mental health charity Mind and Soul Foundation, where Will is a director. Will’s book, talks and further resources can all be found there.

Part one (00:00)
00:35 – Two very different stories to get to know Will: an all-inclusive holiday gone wrong, and the impact the 2005 London bombings had on his mental health.
05:14 – Will’s own experience of complex PTSD and anxiety led to a ministry integrating and advocating for faith and mental health. But in wider society, are we becoming more anxious or are we just talking about anxiety more?
13:00 – As Christians, do we recognise that we are truly forgiven and free? What is ‘disassociated guilt’ and why is it ‘the culture war of old’?
19:00 – “If it’s not a paradox, then it’s probably not God”. Learning to hold the mind, spirit and body together in unity, even if that causes tension.

Part two (21:10)
21:20 – The power of ‘unbelonging’: much of today’s cultural stories surrounding ‘the self’ are rooted in a deep desire for belonging and fear of shame.
27:00 – Why belonging to Jesus can benefit our psychological health.
29:00 – Unpicking the challenges that Christian leaders are facing and dismantling the ‘catastrophe of leadership narrative’.
35:30 – To build resilience against a culture of shame, we must share grace often and seek a soft heart in the centre of the church.
40:00 – Where to go next – Will’s books and further resources, as well as an important reminder for prioritising recreation.

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