June 2018

Dear Friends,

Popular dramas (soap operas) naturally compete for viewing figures with sensational story lines and the occasional culling of actors. They do also at times try to reflect contemporary issues and to handle these sensitively, offering post programme support for viewers affected by things raised.

An ongoing story line in Coronation Street (no, not Phelan getting away with murder!) that has been developing subtly with clues along the way for a while, has just culminated with the suicide of one of the male characters. The script writing was excellent and sensitive, drawing out from the other characters a range of emotions from intense grief to shock, disbelief, anger, bewilderment. soul searching and whether any particular characters could have prevented the outcome, not to mention who was to blame.

In the midst of the developing story line, it is an attempt to highlight that suicide is one of the biggest reasons for mortality rates for men under the age of 45 in the UK and how important it is for people of all ages (and especially men who by nature find it hard to open up to their emotions and feelings) to be able to acknowledge and seek help when they are experiencing fragile mental health or low self esteem.

While stress isn't a mental health problem in itself, it often leads to depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide. It can also lead to physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease and joint and muscle problems. It is believed that up to 74% of people in the UK have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, whether it be as a result of work, pressures of exams, social media, relationships, health, poverty etc. The opportunity to look at life style, opportunities to relax, work schedules and expectations, to turn off the phone or computer, to take up a hobby, talk to someone, pray, meditate etc after having acknowledged that you are stressed, anxious, fearful, feel there is no way out of a situation etc is important.

However, it is important to recognise and then admit that things are not good and our mental health or well being is being affected. This isn't about failure or weakness, but the need to find strength and help in order to reclaim wholeness and healing, from family, health professionals and even from God- . from the Prophet Isaiah 41:10 “…do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” 

Every blessing

Canon Tony