Archbishop joins faith leaders to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination
Wednesday 17th October 2012The Archbishop of Canterbury, in partnership with the Time To Change campaign to end mental health discrimination, hosted an event for representatives of different faiths to look together at ways of tackling the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health challenges.
Participants from the Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions addressed the role their communities can play in supporting people with mental illness.
The Archbishop was joined for a panel discussion by Imam Abdul Qaiyum from the East London Mosque and Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, as well as Time to Change Director Sue Baker, Bryony Bratchell from Time to Change’s Young People Panel and Norman Lamb MP, the Minister of State for Care & Support. Dr Williams opened the panel discussion by saying:
“The fact is that people within our communities face the challenges of mental illness just as much as others do, and we as people of faith have the profoundest possible obligation to show our faith in all those who are part of our communities – not stigmatising, not excluding, not suspecting" Dr Williams also spoke of the importance of "showing our faith in people who are part of our communities of faith, showing faith in human beings generally and pushing that vision outwards towards our whole society.”
In a moving speech Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh talked from personal experience, saying: “No one should be stigmatised, we are all god’s children”. Imam Abdul Qaiyum described some of the mental health work of the Faith in Health project at East London Mosque and went on to say “We have a duty to help and support people with mental health problems. We need to continue this good work of Time to Change.”
Group workshops enabled participants to share the practical experience many faith communities have already developed in supporting people with poor mental health. Valuable links were made and participants emphasised the value of sharing good practice.
The Archbishop concluded the seminar by expressing his hopes that “this will be more of a beginning than an end. We have quite an agenda to address, quite a hill to climb in terms of attitudes and possibilities, but there’s great determination around and vision to do something which addresses the problems that we began with; the problems of compounding people’s individual suffering with corporate insensitivity and communal insensitivity. Let’s address that : we can do it and we must and I believe we shall.”
The Time to Change programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief.