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Dear Friends

What a momentous year it has been over the last twelve months. To name but a few major challenges - the debilitating effects of the Covid pandemic, the climate crisis affecting the whole world, and now the terrible war in Ukraine which poses a threat to the world order which for so long we have taken for granted. We have to express our horror on behalf of the innocent victims involved. This added with the upcoming cost of living crisis and we have a real threat to both individual and collective mental health.

It's at these times that we are challenged with an existential threat. What is the meaning and purpose of our lives in these situations? I recall the early work of Victor Frankl in working with holocaust survivors to help them to discover - and in some cases rediscover - a sense of meaning and purpose as they looked back at their endurance and suffering. The current crisis in Ukraine will result in countless experiences of trauma and urgent therapeutic needs.

Hence the value of the work of our Forum. In the most difficult and challenging of times, our spirituality provides a 'wellspring for our soul'. During the worst times of the pandemic, we must acknowledge those - health care professionals as well as chaplains - who worked at risk to themselves to ensure that spiritual support was given to those nearing the end of their lives as well their loved ones.

I am pleased that the events organised by the Forum over the last twelve months - using a zoom format - have resonated with so many of our supporters as well as others new to the Forum. I hope that we can continue with these events as the year progresses.

Due to a change in my personal circumstances, I have stood aside from acting as Chair but I hope to continue to play an active part in the Forum as the year progresses. Meanwhile, can I take this opportunity to thank Yvette Arthur and Martin Aaron for all their hard work in sustaining the activities of the Forum as well as the many contributors to our sessions.

Ben Bano

March 2022 Chair, National Spirituality and Mental Health Forum

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