Mental Health Week 2018
By The Most Rev Bishop Donald Sproxton VG
Auxiliary Bishop of Perth
1 October 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
National Mental Health Week runs from Sunday 7 October to 14 October and coincides with World Mental Health Day on 10 October.
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Week is ‘Share the Journey’, a theme which speaks
strongly I believe of whom we are called to be as ‘Church’- a living vibrant Christian community of people supporting and walking with each other on our earthly journey together.
Almost one in five Australians surveyed have experienced symptoms of a mental health issue
during the last twelve months, with Anxiety being the most common. Homelessness is another
major source of mental illness and stigma. People living with a mental illness are often isolated, have difficulty accessing employment and have disrupted family, social and peer networks as highlighted in the recently launched Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2018/19, “A place to call Home“.
Despite the progress we have made in the past decade, the stigma associated with mental illness still exists in our community. The way we talk about mental illness and the things we express publicly through media, social media, in our parishes, homes and in our workplaces can make a difference. Improving our communication around mental ill-health and suicide is vital as stigmatising language can prevent people from seeking help. Mental health and wellbeing crosses language and cultural divides. By supporting individuals and families holistically and in partnership, we build stronger communities that flourish as a whole. Optimal mental health and wellbeing requires an approach that addresses the whole person, acknowledging their mental, physical and spiritual health equally.
The best way we can spread the word about positive mental wellbeing and seeking support if we need it, is by attending or holding a local event or awareness activity in our parish community, workplace or school during Mental Health Week.
As a suggestion, parishes could make efforts to welcome people with mental health issues at
Mass followed by morning tea, or encourage people to share their stories of mental health issues or those in their family at a Parish or school event.
Many parishes have, through Emmanuel Centre Scholarships, recognised that having a person in a parish who has done some initial training in Mental Health First Aid can assist parishioners and their families to find suitable resources to assist in time of need for people with mental health issues. If you are interested contact our Archdiocesan agency, the Emmanuel Centre for more information.
I ask that your parish community take the opportunity on the weekend of 6 to 7 October to
prayerfully consider the issues around mental health that our brothers and sisters experience in our midst.
Yours sincerely in Christ
+Donald G Sproxton VG
Auxiliary Bishop of Perth
World Mental Health Day – 10 October – is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. An initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health to raise public awareness of mental health issues worldwide.
Mental Health Australia is delighted to be leading the World Mental Health Day campaign in Australia. As the peak not-for-profit organisation representing the mental health sector in Australia, Mental Health Australia has a focus on ensuring the whole community recognises the part we all play in creating a mentally healthy society.
Do You See What I See? challenges perceptions about mental illness in Australia and encourages everyone to look at mental health in a more positive light, in an effort to reduce stigma and make way for more people to seek the help and support they deserve.
Stigma around mental illness due to misunderstanding or prejudice remains an issue in Australia, delaying or preventing people from wanting or feeling able to seek help, and impacting adversely on their lives.
Misconceptions and misrepresentations about those experiencing mental illness are damaging to people’s lives. They may include references to people affected as being ‘scary’, ‘comical’, ‘incompetent’, ‘weak’ or ‘hopeless’ and can appear anywhere, from in the media and the arts to conversations we have at work, school or home.
The reality is the vast majority of people affected by mental illness are able to lead independent and contributing lives in the community, with the right treatment and support. With one in five Australians affected, they form part of our close circles of family, friends and colleagues, and interact with us in our communities every day.
It’s time to look at mental illness in a different light – a positive light.
Colour and Life, Resilience, Determination, Strength, Perseverance, Bravery, Recovery, Hopefulness, Courage, Contribution and more.