Associate minister East Team and chaplain to the Queen Rev Canon Ann Easter knows that mental illness shouldn’t be feared


- Credit: Archant

We were horrified and upset to hear of the disaster last month when an aeroplane crashed into a mountain near Seyne-les-Alpes, killing all 150 passengers and staff on board.

Immediate investigations into the cause of the crash revealed that the co-pilot, Andreas Lubwitz, appears to have flown the plane into the mountain deliberately; further investigation into his medical records showed that he had suffered a number of episodes of depression and probably should have been off sick at the time of the calamity.

My beloved husband, Christopher, has suffered several bouts of depression over the years – once he was off work for six months; he says that he feels hopeless and helpless, overwhelmed by life and has no energy or enthusiasm for anything

Thank God and the NHS, these days we recognise the symptoms and a course of anti-depressants, rest and a bit of exercise will soon have Christopher back to his lively self.

It took courage to announce the cause of Christopher’s absence to his congregation (he’s a parish priest) as somehow our horror of mental illness runs very deep – I think we can’t obviously see the cause, we don’t understand it and so we are afraid of it. Until very recent times, and in some cultures still, mental illness is seen as a punishment from God and a curse on a family; sufferers have been hidden away, locked up in asylums and were subjected to ghastly “procedures” in vain attempts at cure.

Statistics say that one in four of us will suffer from some sort of mental illness during our lifetime but modern research means that we don’t need to be so afraid of it anymore; carefully chosen combinations of drugs and therapies mean that there is real hope of recovery.

The love and patience of family, friends and neighbours helps all of us towards mental wellness – not to mention, in my case, regular doses of sunshine, music and cups of tea! More from Ann