Last year we briefly considered mental health as part of our series on inclusion. We never expected or intended to cover everything we needed to know in a single evening, but rather we hoped to start a conversation in order to make clear that we want to be a safe space in which people can acknowledge and talk about their own mental health. Moving sentness to an evening slot was our first practical response, as it aimed to give more time and a more appropriate space for people to share in greater depth, including about their mental health if this was relevant.
It has taken a little time, but we are now coming back to the conversation, and we will be inviting in speakers with experience of working with people with mental health difficulties, in the hope that this may give us greater understanding and some more practical responses.
I am writing on this today partly to let you know where we are headed, and partly because this is Mental Health Awareness Week, and so there is lots on line and on social media at the moment. My expertise is limited to my own experience of depression and anxiety, which many of you will have heard about already, so for the moment I’m going to hand over to some other articles and resources that you may find interesting or helfpul.
Mental Health Awareness Week is an initiative of the Mental Health Foundation, so their website is a good place to start. Mind are alos good for information and support, and the Time to Change campaign aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma. CALM works specifically in the area of men’s mental health.
From a faith perspective, a number of Christian organisations have produced a Mental Health Access Pack with information about common conditions and practical advice on how to support people living with them. Inclusive Church have produced a Mental Health resource, which is currently in the possession of a member of revive whose identity eludes me.
Pray As You Go have produced a series of reflections for Mental Health Awareness Week. (Thanks to Emma for putting us on to this one!) We have used and recommended Pray as You Go in the past, so these may be well worth checking out.
Our very own Joelle is passionate about the role music can play in promoting good mental health, and Mind explains why. A number of us play as part of the West Leeds Music Centre, and these local music centres a great play to start (or restart!) engaging with music.
When I shared my own history of poor mental health last year, I suggested that we need a more nuanced understanding of healing which sees God in coping as well as in cure, and I also talked about the need to be a community of care and hold space in which it is safe to be vulnerable. I still hold all of that to be true, and I hope it may lay some of the foundations as we come to talk about mental health once more.