“Hope and Healing:” Addressing Mental Health Issues
At our parish social ministry we have become aware of how much mental health issues impact our community. I specifically witnessed a correlation between our community in need and the impact they have (either directly or within the family) with mental health issues. I raised this concern with Catholic Charities and later this month there will be a workshop that our social ministry office will be attending on resources and training for mental health issues. During the summer we will be looking at how to address some of these issues including a caregiver’s support group.
The Catholic Bishops of California recently released a statement called “Hope and Healing” on the Catholic call to be attentive to mental illness, below is an excerpt from that document. Please visit our website to find the link and read the entire document. The following link has the document in spanish: “Esperanza Y Sanacion.”
Jesus Christ’s public life was a ministry of hope and healing. As Catholics, in imitation of our Lord, we are called to provide hope and healing to others. We profess that every human life is sacred, that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and, therefore, a person’s dignity and worth cannot be diminished by any condition, including mental illness…
Persons with mental illness often suffer in silence, hidden and unrecognized by others. Consider this stark contrast: a person with a medical illness, such as cancer, will usually receive an outpouring of sympathy and support from their parish and community; a person diagnosed with a mental illness – such as depression, crippling anxiety, or bipolar disorder – frequently experiences isolation and inadequate support, often because of the unjust social stigma of mental illness. This should not be so in our civic communities and cannot be so in our Catholic communities. Those living with a mental illness should never bear these burdens alone, nor should their families who struggle heroically to assist their loved ones. We Christians must encounter them, accompany them, comfort them and help bear their burdens in solidarity with them – offering our understanding, prayers, and tangible and ongoing assistance.