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Let’s Address the Tragedy of Mental Illness

1 Response

  1. S-L Pimentel says:

    Thanks for opening a very necessary discussion. In addition to the need for spaces where people and families suffering with mental health problems can be ministered to, our churches also need to be more welcoming of the stranger.

    We are seeing an increase in mental health problems (perhaps it’s because we’re beginning to understand it better) but I sometimes wonder if the prevalence is due to the fact that our societies have become so isolated. In urban settings especially, we often don’t even know who lives next door to us. Social groups and clubs often seem to perpetuate the ‘cool kid’ ambience that you need to somehow ‘fit in’ with the life of the group. This can be very alienating for people who, as a result of what they are suffering, feel as if they cannot fit in.

    This is where the Church can serve as a place of healing. To accept in Christ-love, all who enter. Welcome the stranger. We often have no idea why someone we’ve never seen before turns up at Mass. Take the time to get to know them. Be gentle.

    Listen. That is the great tragedy of our age. We’ve stopped listening to one another. I am certain there would be less incidents of suicide and depression, if we just stopped focusing on ourselves and focus instead on someone else. Someone who may be hurting and doesn’t need a sermon, or a self-help book. Or a magic pill. The catalyst to their healing might simply be to find someone who will listen.
    .
    Above all, the Church is a place of prayer. It is the place where we hand to God what we cannot do and we ask for his help, love and healing. The inner anguish that someone who suffers from mental health problems is often the anguish of helplessness, of being unable to find a way out, a release. Healing is knowing that God loves even what is broken inside each one of us and that there is a purpose to the crosses that we carry. But that healing often requires the intervention of those who will pray into the anguish and hold the suffering person’s hand as they find a way out of the prison of the mind.

    Perhaps this is the evangelical challenge as we focus on families over the next three years.