The Revd.

Matthew J Hughes

01689 856931

Associate Rector

The Revd.
Stephen Broadie
 01689 852843

Assistant Priest

The Revd.

Bill Mullenger

020 8462 9624


March Leader

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, British people are amongst the most depressed in the world coming joint seventh with Sweden and Luxembourg.

It is now well established that 1 in 4 people every year suffer some kind of mental health problem and 70 million work days per year are lost through anxiety, stress and depression in the work force. The most common cause of death amongst men between the ages of 20 – 49 is suicide. All this points to the prevalence of depression in the population and that is why I am very happy to support the work of this month’s charity in focus, which is MIND.

One of the problems with Depression is that is often not visible to the outside world. The depressed person often tries hard to conceal how they are really feeling. Afflictions of the mind invariably do not receive the same sympathy and understanding as physical illness. C.S Lewis put this well when he wrote, ‘Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and harder to heal.’ The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say, ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say, ‘My heart is broken.’

‘Pull yourself together, cheer up’ can be as good as it gets for some people, and for this reason it becomes easier to put up and shut up. However, research has shown that the silent treatment is the worst possible approach to helping people recover from depression. In my own experience of working with depressed people, where there is an opportunity to talk about feelings and to have them understood and acknowledged, progress is made. In fact, depression can often be caused by a building up of difficult and prohibited feelings around anger, anxiety, rage and loss that are so controversial to the individual that they have to be repressed or depressed. Talking cures do help, as does sensitive and nuanced help from the medical profession. Also, let us not forget the vital part that community life can play in helping depressed people.

Is it just a coincidence that increased incidents of depression in young people have coincided with the increased use of social media, a forum that offers an infinite scope to make friends and to be popular, but can leave its users feeling isolated, lonely and inadequate? Church is in essence a community, but it must be a real, authentic community that can support people who feel depressed and create real encounters with others that can help people away from isolation into a place where they can be themselves. Many people can be frightened of depression and steer clear of people who suffer from it. Jesus was different and was always kind and compassionate to all who were suffering and healed people who were afflicted in their bodies as well as those who were afflicted in their minds. There can be a pressure on Christians to be extra happy and to reflect the joy of their faith at all times. How sad it would be if people felt that they couldn’t come to church because they simply did not feel like this. ‘Come to church and be yourself’ would be my motto. In Psalm 139 we are reminded of God’s presence with us wherever life’s journey takes us. I will leave you with some of its verses. ‘Where then can I flee from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence, if I dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your had shall find me and your right had shall hold me fast. If I say surely darkness will cover me and night close around me. Darkness is not darkness to you O Lord, for night is as clear as day, both dark and light are one’.





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