Vicar's Letter May
I was very moved by the BBC program ‘Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency’. It was about two male friends Roman and Joe who saw each other regularly both in their work, Roman Kemp does the breakfast show on Capital Rodio and Joe was his radio producer, and in their personal lives - they were friends and regularly went out together. Joe ended his own life. Roman admits he had little idea Joe was struggling with his mental health - Joe was always the life and soul of the party. In the program, Roman examined ways of encouraging men to be open about their emotions. Mental illness affects most of us and can be made worse when turmoil and distress can’t be acknowledged and discussed.
I want to use this month’s vicar’s letter to highlight Mental Health Awareness Week which coming soon. This year they are highlighting the good which comes from being close to nature. I quote from their publicity:
‘Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world…
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we will pull together the evidence that demonstrates the powerful benefits of nature for our mental health. We will look at nature’s unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder…
We will show that even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.’
Jesus spent much time with people who were ‘demon possessed’. These people with mental illness came out of desperation to Jesus for healing. Here’s some prayers I’d like you to pray for this week and for all of us struggling with poor mental health:
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, hear us as we pray for ourselves, for one another, for your Church and for a needy world.
We pray for those who are anxious, isolated, lonely, or grieving because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We pray for those whose mental health has suffered because of the impact of the pandemic on our lives, our jobs and our economy.
We lament the stigma and prejudice that infected our attitudes to mental illness long before COVID-19 appeared. We pray for all who have not been made welcome in our churches, our communities, our homes, or our hearts.
We pray for all whose thoughts or feelings are troubled. We pray for those who are depressed, anxious, or afraid, for those who feel that you are far away from them, and for those who feel that life is not worth living. We pray for those whose high moods endanger their wellbeing and that of those around them. We pray for those who hear voices that are intrusive, threatening, abusive or evil. We pray for those whose thoughts are dominated by delusional beliefs. We pray for those who struggle with cravings for alcohol, drugs, food, gambling or sex. We pray for those who suffer from anorexia, and for all whose body image is a source of distress to them.
We pray for counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists, chaplains and all who care for people suffering from mental illness. We pray for members of therapeutic communities, mutual support groups and recovery colleges. We pray for politicians, policy makers and managers who seek to plan, build and deliver better, more effective and more compassionate, mental health services.
Heavenly Father, we pray that, as Christ’s body here on earth, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we might bring healing and new life to those who suffer in mind and soul. May we be bringers of forgiveness, kindness, faith, hope and love. Save us from shallow answers that add to the suffering of others. Help us to listen well. May we know your presence with us, may we find you in one another, and may we be Christ for others.
Revd. Jan Ashton
Vicar of St. Stephens, Hightown