In the light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Mental Health Foundation decided to change its theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, which the chairty has hosted since 2001.
We were invited to reflect on the theme of Kindness. It's a theme that extends beyond the boundaries of a single week.
“We feel that now more than ever we need to re-discover our connection to kindness and each other in our daily lives. It therefore feels right to . . . celebrate the many thousands of acts of kindness that are so central to the quality of our mental health.”
The Mental Health Foundation website offers a range of tips and advice on how to look after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Also see the Wellbeing page on our own website.
Hymns for health and healing
Reading the words of hymns can be a meaningful way of exploring feelings about our own mental health, and thinking about the issues more generally.
In 2019, Andrew Brown offered a new hymn, We pray for healing and for health. It’s a prayer for healing in many diverse contexts, as well as a re-assertion of God's restorative power:
We pray for healing and for health;
for all who suffer in this world,
with minds that cannot bear its strains,
with bodies aching, full of pain.
Restoring God, we look to you,
bring healing to all people here.
As we note, Andrew is not alone in perceiving the need for more hymns that reflect our prayers "for healing and for health", not least in relation to poor mental health. (See our interview with URC hymn writer Jan Berry, More to say about healing, recently updated.)
Andrew recognises the full, diverse extent of healing that we seek, both as individuals and as a society; the very many situations in which "hopelessness has taken root". Also worth revisiting in this context is his more recent hymn, When life is shaken to its core, which he revised in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It echoes, in places, the writing of William Cowper who vividly expressed his own mental turmoil in hymn-poem form. See Pain and passion in the hymns of William Cowper.
Also within the printed hymn book, you may find it helpful to re-read these hymns:
O Christ, the healer, we have come to pray for health (StF 653) by Fred Pratt Green
Your words to me are life and health (StF 164) by George Currie Martin
Martin Leckebusch’s hymn When circumstances make my life too hard to understand (StF 641) echoes in part a difficult time in his own life. Laurence Wareing’s personal reflection on Martin’s words points to the broader “uncertainty and fear that so frequently we are unable to share amongst those with whom we gather to worship”.
From Methodist Publishing
Methodist Publishing is highlighting its Mental Health cards for under-12s and young people (“age-specific tips on how to stay mentally healthy”) and Geoffrey Baines’s lovely Slow Journeys in the Same Direction (left) – a beautifully designed adult colouring book that can be used for relaxation or as part of your daily devotions.
From the Arthur Rank Centre
It is estimated that there are 20,000 rural churches in the UK. Although some have a small attendance, there remains a unique opportunity for churches to respond to issues of social isolation, as they often provide key community facilities and social interaction in rural communities. Rural Isolation and Loneliness: a toolkit for rural churches is a helpful starting point for considering the issues.