St Dominic’s Justice & Peace Group
Mental Health Portal
Following the 2020 Social Justice Statement from the Australian Bishops on Mental Health and their earlier document on parish support for mental health, St Dominic’s parish has adopted mental health as one of our pastoral priorities. This webpage notes some of the activities we have engaged in, and links to some resources that some have found helpful.
Our Justice & Peace undertaking is to
build our own awareness of mental health issues, and that of the parish as a whole
explore the offering of mental health first aid
ensure that mental health and those affected is recognised in our liturgies, including special liturgical recognition
work with the whole parish to ensure that we are as welcoming and engaging as we can be
advocate to address the social determinants of mental ill-health and the availability of social and professional support.
MENTAL HEALTH MONTH
October is National Mental Health Month in Australia. Details are available at Mental Health Foundation Australia (mhfa.org.au).
Here is a prayer from Neal Murphy to mark this time of year:
'As people of faith I want to share with you this simple message – you are not alone, you are not abandoned, you are known and loved by God.' Read more... 2110_neal_murphy_only_in_god.pdf
Click here for ‘Life to the Full: Mental Health in Australia today’, the 2020 social justice statement by the Catholic Bishops of Australia.
Click here for ‘Healing Wounds and Warming Hearts: Supporting people with mental illness in your parish’
Here is a link to an article from CatholicCare Victoria entitled 'asking the difficult questions' :CatholicCare - News - Asking the difficult question (ccam.org.au). This article outlines an approach on 'how to ask someone if they’re okay, how to provide them with support (including emergency support), and how to look after yourself in the process.' The messages conveyed in the article align with what was presented in the recent parish Mental Health First Aid course.
During April/May 2021 our parish organised a Mental Health First Aid course, which was attended by a capacity group of 20 people. Participants were very positive about the two-day program. They thought that it made a significant difference to their understanding about mental health, and to their ability to engage positively in many settings with friends, family, workmates etc who suffer from mental illness.
Our thanks to Neal Murphy who presented the program (www.thatspeaksofpeace.com.au is Neal's website) and to Mental Health First Aid Australia (mhfa.com.au), whose syllabus we followed.
A second program is being organised for later in 2021.
An Ecumenical Liturgy to open eyes and hearts to the challenges of mental health today was held on 10 March 2021 at St Dominic’s Church in Camberwell. Rev. Ross Pearce and Fr. Kevin Toomey were the presiders and the preacher was Rev. Deacon John Tansey of the Uniting Church Mental Health Ministries.
Preceded by harp music, the congregation listened to the account of David playing the lyre for the mentally agitated King Saul [1Samuel 16: 14 – 23]. The prophet Isaiah reminded us in the second reading that those who wait upon the Lord will soar on wings like eagles and will walk and not faint. [Isaiah 40: 28 – 31]. The Gospel was the invitation which we often use before Communion: Come unto me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. [Matthew 11: 28 -31]
he final prayer from St Augustine was most moving: Watch now, dear Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ, rest your weary ones, bless you dying ones and all for your name’s sake.
The congregation was encouraged to light a candle as a small sign of the light, hope and compassion that we hold for every person who suffers from mental illness.
During refreshments after the service, we were able to meet members of other congregations and discuss issues common to all faith communities.
This well-planned and spiritually uplifting service organized by St Dominic’s with considerable input from Highfield Road Uniting Church, enabled us to realize that mental health is not simply the absence of illness, but having the capacity and opportunity to thrive – that is to participate in the fullness of life to which Jesus invites us [John 10: 10]
(with thanks to Alan Ray of Highfield Road Uniting for this account of the liturgy)
At a parish webinar on 30 September 2020 we heard from the experts in the field:
Bishop Terry Brady – social Justice leader [click here for video presentation]
Dr Caroline Johnson, parishioner and mental health practitioner – [click here for power point]
Ms Trish Mowbray OAM, mental health advocate and pastoral adviser – [click here for power point]