The Bishop of Peterborough has embraced a plea by Action for Happiness volunteers in Northamptonshire, asking churches across the Diocese of Peterborough to consider Sunday 17th January as ‘Wellbeing Sunday’.
The third Monday in January has often been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ and cited as the most challenging day of the year in terms of mental health. Whilst there is no concrete evidence to substantiate this claim, there is no doubt that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a third lockdown, social inequalities and mental illness form a storm in our communities.
The Action for Happiness Northants hub has worked in partnership with churches to develop resources to support parishioners in improving their happiness and wellbeing. Using the evidence-based framework that has been developed by national charity, Action for Happiness, churches are able to explore the ‘10 Keys to Happier Living’.
These simple actions can support personal wellbeing and have been summarised by Action for Happiness with the memorable acrostic: GREAT DREAM. Taking regular daily action using this framework has been proven to improve our wellbeing, especially if we share these actions with those around us.
Wellbeing Sunday is an opportunity to overcome stigma, listen to each other, take action, and (where necessary) link people to supporting agencies including mental health services. This has been especially embraced in Northampton, including other churches as part of the Churches Together network, and builds on partnerships and emerging happy cafés including ROC, Renew Wellbeing and Action for Happiness. In Peterborough, Wellbeing Sunday links with the new mental health and wellbeing initiative, How Are You? (HAY?).
Retired GP, Dr David Smart, Chair of Action for Happiness Northants hub, said:
“At this difficult time, it is helpful to see the Church taking steps to support wellbeing in our communities using the Ten Keys to Happier Living framework.”
Canon Revd Steve Kelly, Vicar of St Giles Church Northampton, said:
“We have recognised for some time the value of the Ten Keys to Happier Living and use this within our church life. The pandemic presents an urgent need, and we will be taking this forward with the Action for Happiness Northants hub.”
The Rt Revd Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, said:
“Mental health issues can manifest in many ways, including physical ways, and we need to address them. This starts with each of us addressing our own wellbeing.”