When 15,000 families shared their concerns with the Bishops during “Listening 2004: My Family My Church” one of the initiatives that resulted was the Catholic Bishops’ Mental Health Project.
It seeks to:
- Increase pastoral and spiritual care for those with mental health challenges , their families and carers across local Catholic communities in England and Wales
- Advocate for the pastoral needs of Catholics affected by mental ill-health
- Continue to support and develop a network of those within the Catholic community in England and Wales with a special interest in locally based mental health support
Funds from the Day for Life collections on Mental Health in 2008, as well as the Day For Life on Suicide in 2009 made possible the creation of a part-time post and £70,000 of small grants to increase mental health pastoral care and foster examples of good practice. www.dayforlife.org
Bishop Richard Moth became the lead Bishop for the mental health project and eleven wide ranging projects were selected. You can see their storieshere.
As part of the ‘Welcome Me as I Am’ programme which emerged from one of the projects a new guide aimed at those who find themselves unexpectedly having to work with someone suffering mental distress has been made available. Resources can be found on www.welcomemeasiam.org.uk.
As 1 in 4 people will experience mental illness at some point this is something that touches all of us. Many charities do outstanding work in raising awareness, tackling stigma, providing resources, help and research and campaigning for equal resources for mental health. We can help by supporting those charities and in our local Catholic communities by
- Hosting events that increase a greater awareness of the dignity of those with mental illness
- Creating support groups for carers and mental health workers as well as those with challenges
- Requesting and helping organise a diocese mass especially for mental health.
(World Day of the Sick Feb 11th which is Our lady of Lourdes feast day, World Mental Health Day Oct 10th , Week of Prayer for Dementia March 12 – 17th. Click here for resources)
- Producing prayer and liturgy resources
- Producing advice and information posters and packs for your diocese and parish connecting in with local mental health charities who have a wealth of information already available
- Coordinating a local network in deanery or diocese for those with a special interest in supporting people with mental health needs, their families and carers
- Hosting awareness raising days – for all or for particular groups e.g. young people
- Organising a series of Sixth Form school debates on mental health topics
- Arranging mental health training for parishioners, for youth workers, for catechists, for SVP visitors, for Ministers of Holy Communion, for clergy
- Seeking ways to support those who are marginalised or returning into parish e.g. gypsies and travellers, sanctuary seekers, migrants, returning armed forces personnel, patients, prisoners
- Hosting retreat/pamper days for those affected and their carers
Bishop Richard Moth, Bishop of the Forces, and lead Bishop for the mental health project has said:
“All our parish communities are places where people with mental health difficulties seek support, pastoral care, and comfort. It will often be a place where people feel safe; a place where they feel at home, close to God.”