'...near to the brokenhearted...' (Psalm 34: 18a)
Mental health and wellbeing are issues which face all of us, whether through personal experience or the experiences of our loved ones, colleagues or friends.
This year’s Lent Appeal will support charities which help those suffering trauma both at home and abroad - as well as considering mental health more widely. War and its effects have been prominent in our thoughts in the past few months. Remembrance Sunday 2018 saw vast numbers of people coming into our churches and our Diocese contains several military bases and many service people live here and contribute to our life together.
Bishop Michael said: “As Christians our role is to participate as fully as we can in this dynamic of transformation by acknowledging the times and places where our own mental health is suffering, and care for that in others.”
This year’s Appeal will raise money to support the charity Combat Stress which helps former servicemen and women deal with trauma-related mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In the last ten years, the number of veterans seeking the charity’s help has almost doubled.
Craig served in the Army for 28 years but an incident in Bosnia affected him deeply. “It changed me completely,” Craig said. “I felt like I was reliving it every day – I wasn’t me anymore. It wasn’t long before I was diagnosed with PTSD.”
Embrace the Middle East will also be supported by the Lent Appeal. The Christian charity has over 160 years' experience helping people of all faiths and none free themselves from a life of poverty and injustice. Together with local Christian communities they bring lasting change through healthcare, education and community development. The appeal will raise money to provide psychological support to those living with the trauma of war, abuse, violence and displacement.
Embrace supports a project which provides residential courses for rural Egyptian women who have experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse. One participant, Sofia, 26, said: “By helping these girls and women feel like they have a voice, by helping them to discover who they are and how to love themselves, this project changes their lives.”
The Lent Appeal is also looking to support other organisations in the Diocese, who are working with people suffering from mental health problems, with prayer and action.
*A big thank you to our new Lent Appeal team of volunteers from across the Diocese who sent out thousands of leaflets and posters to churches in the run-up to Lent. The full leaflet can be found here.