On Sunday we are basing our service around the issue of mental health. The 2014 Qld Synod meeting (State body of the Uniting Church) encouraged congregations to join in the Mental Health Week Day of Prayer which marks the end of Mental Health Week, a government initiative aimed at reducing the stigma around mental health in our community. This year’s theme is #valuementalhealth
It is estimated that one in five Australians are affected by mental illness at some point in their lives, with depression being the most common. If that is accurate, or even remotely close, it means that on any given Sunday a number of people in a congregation are either dealing personally with a mental illness or have relatives and friends who are. Mental illness does not discriminate. Anyone can become a victim regardless of social standing, race, age or gender.
A stigma around mental illness due to misunderstanding and prejudice is still prevalent in Australia, which can delay or prevent people from wanting to or feeling able to seek help. Our service on Sunday will be designed to help us gain insight into mental illness with some theological and biblical reflection. There will also be opportunity for worshipers to light a candle as we offer prayers for those struggling with mental illness and remember those who lost the battle and took their own lives.