Churches across the Diocese of Peterborough have declared January 17th 'Wellbeing Sunday.'
The Bishop of Peterborough asked churches to embrace the concept following a plea by Action for Happiness volunteers in Northamptonshire. The day is the Sunday before the third Monday in January that has often been dubbed Blue Monday.
There's concerns that this year's 'Blue Monday' will be the most challenging so far because of the coronavirus pandemic, combined with a third lockdown, growing concerns over mental health and economic struggles.
The Action for Happiness Northants hub has worked in partnership with churches in Northamptonshire and Peterborough to develop resources to support parishioners in improving their happiness and wellbeing. Using an evidence-based framework that has been developed by national charity, Action for Happiness, churches have been able to explore the '10 Keys to Happier Living'.
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, added: "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."
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."
Wellbeing Sunday has been hailed as an opportunity to overcome stigma and to encourage people to listen to each other, take action, and if needed, link people to supporting agencies including mental health services.
It builds upon the good work in Northampton, including involving 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?).