Faith leaders on mental health and 'building back' after Covid-19

Bibi Khan, Rabbi David Mason and Mother Carol Barrett Ford at Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health

Bibi Khan, Rabbi David Mason and Mother Carol Barrett Ford at Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health - Credit: Archant

Faith leaders have described how the fabric of communities have been “shattered” by Covid-19.

They talked about the link between religion, rootedness and wellbeing at Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health event last Friday (May 21).

Anchored by Ham&High editor André Langlois, those taking part in the discussion were Mother Carol Barrett Ford, from St Martin's Church, Gospel Oak; Bibi Khan, president of Wightman Road Mosque; and Rabbi David Mason, of Muswell Hill Synagogue.  

Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health

Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health - Credit: Archant

The panel discussed how they have used their standing in their communities in Camden and Haringey to support the most vulnerable residents – from Zoom sessions to food parcels to emergency deliveries to vaccine centres.  

Rabbi Mason said: “We believe there’s a value of communal prayer, being present in the place of worship, and that was shattered during the pandemic.  

“We had to accept that and we had to lead on that and say: ‘That's it, we’re shutting [our places of worship].’

"In that leadership I remember feeling the trauma myself. 

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“There was a sense in which every day, every week, I'm going up to that place, I sit in my seat, I give my sermon, I lead the prayers – and that’s taken, it’s gone. That fabric has been shattered.” 

The panel spoke of the need to “build back” that routine and connection in the community, coming out of lockdown.  

“Out of all things something good happens," Mother Carol said.  

“No matter how dreadful something is you are going to have something good happen out of it – and that sense of developing our partnerships and our way of dealing with the various issues that have come up in the community has been a real godsend for us.” 

Bibi said there needs to be greater awareness, signposting and support for the many people struggling with their mental health.  

“This is not the time for us to all be working independently,” the Hornsey mosque president said.  

“We need to work together. It's the whole community that is struggling and suffering, and so that’s where I’m focusing – reaching out to people and just saying to them: ‘Are you ok? How are you?’”

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