Quite often we are confronted with problems that have long and complicated solutions, and as such are seen as insurmountable. Mental health is a topic that is increasingly being talked about, not just in our homes, but on the news and in the papers. Monday 16 January was this year’s ‘Blue Monday’. Created by a holiday company in 2005, it is based on the idea that the third Monday of January is the day when we are poorest and least motivated, and the weather is bad. But it is also a time to start conversations about mental health. Recently Theresa May made a significant speech about mental health, detailing the money that will be spent on provisions as well as emphasising the need to tackle the social stigma associated with mental health problems.
The Church is not excluded from this conversation, nor is it unfamiliar with the difficulties and the stigma surrounding mental health. It knows the value of compassion and unwavering love in these situations. This is no passive compassion devoid of meaning and detached from reality, but an active, enthusiastic one that reaches out for that first embrace.
This is reflected in the many ways that the Church offers support to people with mental health problems, from structured support groups to a chat over tea and coffee after Mass. Within the diocese for example, Ealing Abbey offers counselling services on a self-referral basis, giving a model of care for those of all faiths and none. Although we might not realise it, these things are a lifeline for many people. We can also see this compassion in the acknowledgment of the value that people with mental health issues bring to the Church.
When we consider that one in four people struggle with poor mental health, this is a significant proportion of the people with whom we attend Mass. This figure does not exclude clergy either.
As part of this ongoing drive to address the needs of the whole congregation, Caritas Westminster is working with Welcome Me As I Am and Mind to develop workshops which will be delivered across the diocese on the following:
Kingsland Hackney: 29 April. More information here.
Vaughan House: 13 May. More infomation here.
North Harrow: 17 June. More infomation here.
Welwyn Garden City: 1 July. More information here.
Come along to the workshop nearest to you to find out more about supporting those with mental health issues in a parish setting, and to learn more about the work of Mind. As we enter this diocesan season of prayer, ‘Called to Care for the Sick’, we focus on those who suffer in silence, those who might have an illness that is not obvious. We are calling those who suffer to find comfort in the Church.
If you would like to know more about the workshops please visit our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org