CANON PETER LEONARD: The challenges of mental health and how we can help

Canon Peter Leonard says mental health is one of the great challenges of our time
Canon Peter Leonard says mental health is one of the great challenges of our time
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The canon of Portsmouth Cathedral on Wellbeing Month at the cathedral.

One of the great social challenges of our time is the need to look after ourselves and each other, particularly in the area of mental health. 

Good mental health is fundamental to thriving in life, is an important part of our well-being, who we are and how we experience the world.

Mental health problems are also a growing public health concern. In Britain, a mixture of anxiety and depression is the most common mental health disorder. 

As a priest, I get to see people who suffer in this way, and it really isn’t as simple as feeling a bit down. These can be long-term, debilitating illnesses.

Alarmingly, for men aged 20 to 49 in the UK, suicide remains the most common cause for death. 

But, mental health problems are prevalent not just in the UK, but around the world.

We must raise the awareness of mental health as we have for the health of our bodies and it is good to see some improvement in this area.

The month of May will be Wellbeing Month at Portsmouth Cathedral. We’ll be hosting events, including the Annual Hampshire Festival of the Mind, which brings together organisations that can help those with mental health issues.

We’ll also host a Dementia Awareness Week, with a series of events to help those who suffer from dementia and their carers.

There’s also a dementia-friendly Easter service on March 27.

We’ll screen a special film as part of our monthly Silver Screen get-together, and a Messy Vintage session which involves bringing arts and crafts into care homes to help residents tap into their creative side.

There’ll also be other events centred on feeling good about who God created us to be – ourselves. 

It will be part of an ongoing programme of events designed to promote awareness and resources for all of us who struggle with the challenges of mental health in ourselves and in those we care about. 

If that includes you, or if you are caring for someone in that situation, please be assured that we would love to meet you and help you through difficult times – and to celebrate those moments when life is going better.

Portsmouth Cathedral is in High Street, Old Portsmouth. Call on (023) 9282 3300 or go to portsmouthcathedral.org.uk.