This year's World Mental Health Day comes in the wake of some of the biggest challenges to our mental health through the covid pandemic that we have known. Research suggests that more than half of employees experienced an increase in worries about their mental health during the pandemic. The focus for this year's WMHD is on inequalities - the increases in food and fuel poverty, the reduction in universal credit - all these are factors that will impact in a negative way on mental health. Those who have been close to the 150000 people in the UK who have died will be experiencing a particular trauma. Furthermore, the thousands of health and social care staff who have toiled ceaselessly during the pandemic will also be feeling the effects on their mental health.
It's in this context that spirituality becomes particularly important. Faith beliefs of whatever persuasion carry a message of hope in dark times and even if we do not hold a faith belief a sense of the spiritual helps to sustain us and to focus on what Peter Gilbert used to describe as 'something deep inside me'. Through focusing on what is deep inside us we are helped to find meaning and purpose in a world that is otherwise bewildering - indeed for some people, the lockdown was a time when they could reflect more deeply on the value and meaning of life.
And so on this important day let us in the Forum remind ourselves of the importance of a sense of the spiritual in sustaining our mental health and encourage those near to us to do likewise.
Chair, National Spirituality, and Mental Health Forum