Saturday, October 10, 2009

World Mental Health Day

is today. A story:

A cry for help
Dear friends. My husband has suffered from an anxiety disorder all his life, this has had a massive impact on our life together, I now don't know how to keep going. The problems have left me isolated and rejected by lots of people, it's exhausting and lonely living with someone who spends long periods mentally absent.

I'm so bruised and tired now, I know I'm becoming unwell so please pray for me, that I can find God's will for me, and please pray for my husband, that he might be able to be a mature, giving, thoughtful part of our marriage, and pray for healing from the anxiety and all that brings it on. I think I need to find a supportive friend, who will pray with me and show me a little care and understanding.

Mental illness is a silent epidemic: when the Conservatives annouced their reforms to incapacity benefit, how many people were aware that 34% of those on IB have a mental or behavioural illness? Why is it silent? Because of the kind of nonsense we got over Gordon Brown and whether he was taking anti-depressants. The social stigma over mental illness makes it hard for people to seek support for fear of being branded 'mad', 'loony' etc.

Yet all the time it's getting worse - a survey of young people published earlier this week found that 2/3 of them feel stressed or anxious at least once a week, with many of these feeling it on a daily basis.

Good to see that the BBC is giving this lots of profile today. From my diocese there's a Resource page here with links to stories and prayers.

The nearest we got to a mention during the party conference season was David Cameron mentioning what it was like during his bereavement. Yes mental health is a byproduct of other things - if you have a job, you'll be less stressed about money, if you have a loving family, you'll have more support etc. But there are massive questions of culture and society which need to be asked if we're going to have a country that's hospitable to mental health, rather than toxic to it. I don't sense that many people are asking those questions.

a poem

Stigma, Stigmata
I cried
but not a tear was shed,
I died
but wasn’t dead.

Stigma, stigmata
hung on a cross of ignorance,
by society,
all the evidence.
Tried in a court
of social hate,
by a jury,
without debate.

For the naive and blind,
against prejudice
We stand,
as lunatics,
in equalities land.

There’s a snake
at the altar,
venom and malice,
Our minds
the receptacles
poison chalice.

I cried
but not a tear was shed,
I died
but wasn’t dead.

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