Today, more people than ever are suffering from anxiety and depression. According to Lifeline, suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for men under 44 and women under 34. 

And mental illness is just as prevalent in Christian circles as it is in the rest of society.

So why are so many of us feeling blue?

National Day of Thanksgiving.

"We're just asking people to give thanks - you might want to make some brownies or some scones or give a nice card or go and shake someone's hand. It really is easy to do..." 

- Duncan Armstrong, former Olympic Gold medallist and National Day of Thanksgiving ambassador.

Life events, family history, medical issues, drug and alcohol abuse are all contributing factors.

But according to researchers, part of the solution could be as simple as saying ‘thank you,’ following the discovery of a direct link between gratitude and happiness.

In a controlled experiment, researchers asked one group to write down five things they were grateful for each day, another group was asked to write down the things that annoyed them each day.

The ‘grateful group’ showed, amongst other positive outcomes, increased alertness, better sleep, improved social interactions, improved health and even reduced blood pressure.

In a similar study amongst Grade 6 and 7 students, the ‘grateful’ students showed increased academic outcomes, improved relationships with their parents and teachers and improved social interactions.

In Acts 20:35 Jesus said: "It’s more blessed to give than to receive."

And that can certainly be said of "giving thanks."

The National Day of Thanksgiving, is held on the last Saturday of May each year. Saturday, May 31st, is a unique opportunity for all Australians to celebrate and give thanks for our God-given heritage as a nation, and to demonstrate the values of honour, respect, thankfulness and gratitude towards each other.  

In 2013, over 1,600 communities and an estimated quarter of a million people participated in National Day of Thanksgiving events across Australia. Former Townsville Mayor, Les Tyrell, AOM said: "This is what I always thought the church should be like. It is the finest hour for the church in our city."

This year, the focus is on thanking those working in the transport and travel industries; such as bus, train, tram, taxi, and truck drivers, pilots, couriers, and travel agents.

And neighbours - from those living next door, or in your street. To any who, through their thoughtfulness and kindness, contribute to making your live more pleasant.   

There are endless opportunities to ‘share the gratitude’ with a simple message of ‘thanks.’  

Individuals and churches can play an important role in nurturing health and wellbeing in their communities and amongst their own congregations. The National Day of Thanksgiving is a great place to start.

To find out how you and your church can get involved, visit www.thanksgiving.org.au

Annette Spurr is a spokesperson for the National Day of Thanksgiving.