World Animal Day (4th) and World Mental Health Day (10th) both fall in the month of October.
St George’s page has more about World Animal Day and St Francis, and includes the dates for our Pet Café and Pet Service.
However, Mental Health is something we all need to be constantly revisiting. Today, 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children have a mental health problem. This suggests that people we know are profoundly impacted by mental illness. They may find it hard to work, sustain relationships, or just get through the day. Alongside many of the sufferers will also be their family and friends who often feel helpless in the face of such illness.
Three years ago I was off work for months with depression and anxiety. Until then I thought I knew about mental health, however, like any illness, knowing about something, and living through it, are two very different things. It wasn’t just me, it was my family and friends too, as they rallied round and prayed and supported in amazing and, at times, very costly ways. Thankfully, with their help, a good GP surgery, medication and counselling I’m well and back at work. What also helped were people who generously spoke about their own battles with mental illness, which took away the shame and gave me glimmers of hope in some very dark days.
It is this shame, and the ignorance and fear that it often stems from that World Mental Health Day seeks to tackle. Unlike most illnesses, mental illness still has a stigma attached to it, often well after the person has recovered. Yet, like many physical diseases, mental health is curable, or manageable. Some people have a bout of mental illness, and recover to the point they don’t need further intervention. Others, just like people with diabetes, will need ongoing care for the rest of their lives, whilst other people may have relapses or longer periods of acute care.
Yet the shame generated by the ignorance or fear of others can make it difficult for people to seek help.
Only a quarter of people with a mental health problem receive ongoing treatment, leaving the majority struggling alone. This is shocking; mental illness is an awful disease to suffer from, and
the thought of people struggling alone should horrify us all.
So please, on October 10th, and throughout the year, let’s talk about mental health, help break down the barriers, support those who are ill, and maybe think of some ways we could raise some much needed funds for research and resources.
Revd Fiona Hall, Team Vicar, St George's Church