Fostering Dignity and Seeking Wisdom
At a conference for mental health in Leeds, 3-4 February, the lead bishop for Mental Health, Richard Moth, called for wisdom to help guide decisions about the pastoral support of those with mental health difficulties at a time when “the pressures on many are very great indeed.”
Outlining the pressures, Bishop Moth said that the list is endless: “The student worrying about fees and examinations; the street-dweller trying to get out of the spiral of homelessness; the traveller in prison, lost and alienated from all around; the Alzheimer sufferer, facing increased memory loss; the family member caring for a loved one; service personnel returning home and unable to share their devastating experiences with family; the young person suffering from an eating disorder.”
Bishop Moth asked delegates to “make Solomon’s prayer our own, asking for wise discernment as we strive to raise awareness [about mental health] in our dioceses, parishes and schools”.
Mental ill-health can happen to anyone – 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some stage in their life. Millions of people across Britain and Ireland are either living with or know someone close to them who has been affected by depression, schizophrenia, suicide, self-harm, bereavement, substance misuse or mental health difficulties at some stage in their lives.
The aim of the Mental Health Project, which Bishop Moth leads, is to make all our communities places of welcome and healing where every person can find the support and understanding they need, recognise the dignity that is theirs and find the joy of life lived to the full.
The ‘Exploring Pastoral Support for Mental Health’ Conference, 3-4 February, brought together successful recipients of Day for Life funding through the Mental Health Project, established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in 2010. The 11 local/diocesan mental health projects range from ‘St Dymphna’s Befriending Group’ to ‘Delivering Music for Older People with Mental Health Problems’ and ‘Meeting Mental Health Needs in our Parish and Deanery Community’. The Conference aimed to help share and highlight good practice, and examined ways of working to ensure pastoral support for all those in need.