People living with mental health challenges, are no less members of the Body of Christ than anyone else, Bishop Terry Brady said during Mental Health Awareness Week.
“People with mental illness and their families can often feel isolated from their faith community and thus isolated from God. Isolation is often caused by social stigma: the idea that mental illness is a question of character or a punishment from God,” Bishop Brady, Chair of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life and the Australian Catholic Disability Council said.
“Obviously there are particular challenges to enabling their full participation in the life of the community. Some of the challenges are visible and many others are not so clearly identified. Once we acknowledge these challenges we can work together to ensure that all the gifts that flow through the Body of Christ can be shared by each member of that Body.”
“It is also a reminder to look after our own well-being, especially our spiritual well-being. How are we nourishing our well-being through our spirituality?” Bishop Brady, asked.
World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It is an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. This year the theme is, ‘Mental Health begins with me!’
One in five Australians will experience mental illness this year. We all have a role to play in looking after our own mental health and well being, Bishop Brady said. “The Catholic Church has been involved in Mental Health for a long time. Mental Health is a vital part of the Church’s ministry,” he added.
“When our parishes gather, nearly everyone will know someone who has a mental illness of varying severity and length. Because of the stigma attached to it, few will come forward, but it is there. How can we support people living with stigma of mental illness?”
“Parishes may like to highlight the gifts and talents of people with mental health challenges, their families and support networks. It is also an important time to recognise the importance of spirituality and well-being,” Bishop Brady added.
Celebrating Mental Health Awareness week from 4th – 10th October 2015, Bishop Brady launched a parish kit to assist parishes to be authentic by including every member of the community, acknowledging their call, their gift and their presence.
“I invite you to use the parish kit material to promote World Mental Health Day in your parish. You may wish to use the material to celebrate World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October or at another time.”
Prayer cards, parish kit, tips for celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week are available to download via the ACBC website: https://www.catholic.org.au/mental-health