This week is the start of Mental Health Month in Australia. Many months ago, we planned a special service for the 10th October (which is also World Mental Health Day) but after weeks of lockdown and pandemic anxiety, Cecelia and I thought it would be good to use the full month to focus on the Mental Health Month objectives:

1. To raise community awareness and understanding of mental illness.

2. Reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.

3. Promote positive mental, physical, social and spiritual health and wellbeing in the community.

4. Encourage people to seek-help and practice selfcare.

5. Provide information about mental health and wellbeing and increase awareness of local services.

So, we are focusing on mental health over five ‘Sundays at 6’ sessions in October, from 6pm (around 45 minutes each). We will be inviting members of our community to share their stories with the aim of increasing our community awareness and understanding of mental illness and our awareness of what promotes positive mental, physical, social and spiritual wellbeing. The link for this Sunday night, 3rd October, will be in the bulletin on Friday, so please diarise this and join us. (Attached is also an October calendar of ‘tips for tuning into mental health’. Please print this out and use it this month at your house!)

This week the path out of lockdown has also been announced for the ACT. We are working towards having people back in church after the 29th October (when we can have one person per four square metres). Small groups (of up to 10 people) can also resume after the 29th October, but it may be possible for some of the less energetic Community Centre activities to come back after the 15th October. This is very good news!

Tonight at Community Hour at 5:30pm (usually 30-45 minutes) we are sharing pictures of wildlife we’ve observed during lockdown – or you can bring your pet! I noted that one of the tips for tuning into mental health is ‘grounding yourself by connecting to the earth’. Connection to Country is a huge part of social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and connecting with nature has real benefits for all people, helping to improve wellbeing and making you feel more relaxed. Doing gardening has been shown to increase levels of hormones that improve mood and decrease stress, and even humble indoor plants can help us feel more connected to the earth.

So, join us this evening – 5.30pm – for a wild segment of Community Hour!  On Zoom

And this Sunday morning is the Blessing of the Animals! It will be online, but there are lots of wonderful photos pouring in of the animals who share our lives – and the animals who share our world! It will also be a time of communion, so please prepare for that, and we will give thanks with the whole of creation!

Grace and peace to you all!