Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis. These are figures according to the NHS published in 2011 and take no account of the mental health impact of the global COVID pandemic.
As part of Mental Health Awareness week, a local vicar in Hereford is offering online Mental Health MOT checks each day. Revd Andy who moved to Hereford last October has a vision is to see St Peter’s become the city centre churchsupport hub. He hopes to offer students and young people a safe space where they can talk about Mental Health, seek help, get support, including professional counselling and know the community will care for them.
Revd Andy explains: “I am a passionate supporter of good Mental Health. A good friend once told me that I was one of the few people he knew who was paid just to care, listen andto spend time alongside folk.”
“As part of Mental Health Awareness week, I am offering a Mental Health MOT. A bit like a Car MOT – We check to make sure it is safe and keeps on working and we do that before it falls apart. Mental Health should also be checked regularly. Poor mental health can tear people’s lives apartwhilst good mental health can equally change families and communities for the better.”
The weeklong online checks are focused on five themes: First:checking our ‘personal mental health’, second: ‘taking a moment to pause.’ By taking time to stop, re-centre and reflect- Some people call this prayer or meditation. Third: ‘go and meet someone’ will focus on the importance of getting outside of our own head by speaking or spending time with someone in conversation. Fourth is ‘moving your mood.’ This is all about physical activity including sport, painting, dance or walking and finally ‘make a difference’, a reminder that by helping others we help ourselves.
Andy adds: “The most recent lockdown has been quite a challenge and many people are struggling with their mental health and emotions. The Christian faith sees people as whole ‘selves’- not separate physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings. It seems obvious to me that we have a role to help people with managing their mental health.
“A vicar is someone who helps point others towards hope, best seen in Jesus. A vicar is not necessarily someone who is permanently filled with joy but they’re able to acknowledge where their help and strength comes from.”