I came across an article in the ‘Tablet’, an English Catholic weekly, about mental health in view of the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, a lot of what is in the article is relevant to many aspects of mental health in general.
Paul Farmer, a committed Catholic, is the Chief Executive of the mental health charity ‘Mind’. His own wife died leaving him a widower with two children. He speaks about how bereavement was made bearable for him because of the support that he had from the protective arm of the love of family, the consolation of friends, and the solidarity of his Church community.
So many were deprived of the full benefit of a lot of this support because of isolation recently.
Even for those who have not experienced bereavement, the lockdown and other effects of the virus have taken their toll. We have all been affected in some way at least. There can be very significant psychological impact for many, if not for all.
Paul gives some tips for mental health.
Meditate and pray well.
Identify someone you trust who you can talk to – really talk to.
Improve your listening skills.
Avoid social media and too much news.
Take up or revive a pastime or hobby.
There is no doubt that a holistic attitude to life is very important for wellbeing.
In Jesus, God became flesh. To be Christian is about being fully human as God intended us to be.
The tips that Paul gives are about a holistic approach to life.
Mental health, physical health, as well as spiritual health, are ‘works in progress’. We are always getting there.
We are not meant to be solitary people just on our own.
I was recently reading from St. Cyprian’s treatise on the ‘Our Father’, the Lord’s prayer, in the Office of readings. It struck me when he says that Jesus taught us to pray ‘OUR’ Father, give ‘US’, forgive ‘US’, ‘WE’ forgive them, lead ‘US’, deliver ‘US’.
It is ‘US’ not me!
We need to look after each other and each other’s wellbeing.
We are Church family needing constantly to be supporting each other.
In our own family, among our friends, in the Church family and beyond, our Christian calling calls us to be there for each other:
Sometimes a respectful smile or some other respectful gesture can go a long way.
Sometimes just listening to someone, or just checking out on them………….
Not giving up on someone even when we do not know what to do.
Paul’s check list can be helpful for all of us. It is a good reminder. Prayer and meditation keep pointing us in the right direction and ‘grounding us’.
It is also good to remember that since we are not ‘just spirit’, but a whole human person, the other points on the list are also important.
You may want to check ‘Mind’ out for yourself. For further information on Mind’s work go to: