I noticed some confusion from one writer who suggested that physical disability should be included as well as mental disability. The reason is because the topic is mental health. Mental health is to mental disability what physical health is to physical disability. Some physical disability, such as myopia, can be dealt with quite simply with the right pair of spectacles; an amputated limb, such as a leg, requires a lot more effort and support to come to terms with. Physical ill-health such as a bout of flu might knock you out for a few weeks but it is likely (not inevitable) that you will live to tell the tale; whereas there are chronic conditions which have long-term consequences.

Mental health, today’s suggested topic for the novena, is something that has begun to be talked about more openly but is still often misunderstood. A mental health problem is not the same as a disability – although some people’s prejudice can be disabling. You can have a mental health problem and yet run a country and win a war: Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s war-time leader suffered from bouts of depression.

A prayer

Be with us, Lord, in all our prayers, and direct our way toward the attainment of salvation; that among the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may always be defended by your gracious help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from the Book of Common Prayer, contemporary version)