Sunday, October 06, 2013

Mental Health Week 2013 for Catholics

The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World set the tone for a new engagement between religion and community "The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well" 

In this context I would expect there to be some attention from the pulpits of our Churches to the fact that in Australia, October 7-12 is dedicated as Mental Health Week.

Mental illness is very common. One in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance use disorder. These three types of mental illnesses often occur in combination. For example, a person with an anxiety disorder could also develop depression, or a person with depression might misuse alcohol or other drugs, in an effort to self-medicate. Of the 20% of Australians with a mental illness in any one year, 11.5% have one disorder and 8.5% have two or more disorders. Almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime [1]. (Facts and Figures about Mental Health and Mood Disorders)

A quick scan of the popular Catholic blogs, forums and news services draws a blank on this week's theme.  In my home Archdiocese of Brisbane Catholic Pyschiatric Pastoral Care
 invites you to Mass at St Patrick’s, Fortitude Valley on Friday 11 October @ 1.00pm to celebrate Mental Health Week. This
year’s theme is We’re all in this together. Light refreshments will follow Mass. 

Readers of this blog may like to spread the word about an invitation to A National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding. This initiative of A Nouwen Network will be held on the Sunday of or following World Mental Health day, October 10.

A great resource of prayer and worship resources is available on the site. You might like to take up the suggestion to promote a National Day of Prayer for this cause. You can do that by sending your request to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and National Council of Churches


One of the Prayer resources I will use during this week is a Candle  Lighting Service allowing for a candle for each day of the week. I invite you to join with me using a candle at home  or in your place of worship:

  • We light the candle of Truth that God will help us dispel ignorance and misinformation about major  depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. (Silent prayer) 
  • We light the candle of Healing that troubled minds and hearts,  broken lives and relationships might be healed. (Silent prayer) 
  • We light the candle of Understanding that the darkness of stigma,  labels, exclusion and marginalization might be dispelled for the sake  of those touched by mental illness. (Silent prayer) 
  • We light the candle of Hope for persons and families living with  mental illness, for better treatment, for steadier recovery, for greater  opportunity to work and serve. (Silent prayer) 
  • We light the candle of Thankfulness for compassionate, dedicated  caregivers and mental health professionals; for new discoveries in  brain research and better medications. (Silent prayer) 
  • We light the candle of Faith to dispel doubt and despair for those  who have lost hope and are discouraged. (Silent prayer) 
  • We light the candle of Steadfast Love to remind us of God’s love  and faithfulness, and to remind us to share the light of love and  service for those living with mental illness. (Silent prayer) 
Carole J. Wills 

Anam Cara.(Brisbane)
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