On October 10, observed internationally as World Mental Health Day, Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton said that society should work to remove the stigma that surrounds those seeking help for mental illness.
“As a society, we have yet to remove the lingering stigma which can be attached to mental ill health,” he said in a statement. “We need to jettison the taboo around discussing the issue, and our discussions ought to be non-judgmental.”
“In the interest of the common good, every citizen has a responsibility to promote the mental health of all the members of our society, including ourselves, and of our local communities,” he added.
The World Health Organization has encouraged countries throughout the world to annually mark October 10 as World Mental Health Day as a time to raise awareness about mental health issues as well as about mental health resources and support.
The theme for this year’s Mental Health day was suicide. According to the WHO, someone commits suicide every 40 seconds throughout the world, and so they encouraged people to take “40 seconds of action” in the form of either reaching out about personal mental health struggles, reaching out to a friend with health struggles, or raising awareness about mental health resources.
Moth is the lead bishop for the Mental Health Project, an initiative of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales that began in 2013.
According to the project’s website, its aims are to “offer support and resources to local Catholic communities as they respond to those facing mental health challenges,identify and highlight good practice in pastoral care for those with mental health needs, their families and carers, and develop a network of those within the Catholic community in England and Wales with a special interest in locally based mental health support.”
The program provides grants to projects throughout Catholic dioceses and parishes in England and Wales that aim at mental health awareness and support. Projects that have received grants through the program include things such as community training on how to deal with dementia, parish small groups for mental health support, and the hiring of counselors and therapists for Catholic schools, among others.
In his statement, Moth said that every life is sacred and that mental health is a “Christian concern.”
“The Church believes that life is worth living. Life matters. It is a precious gift to be cherished,” he said. “Our fulfillment and destiny come from a living relationship with Jesus Christ through faith, nourished by the sacraments and the support of the Church community. Prayerful support of those who care about the mental health of every member of the community also assists in this great work of Christian concern.”