Mental Illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life's ordinary demands and routines (Mental Health America). One in four families will at some time have to cope with mental illness and its effects on a loved one and the family unit.
The stigma attached to mental illness forces many to hide the severity of their symptoms or those of a loved one. Many stop coming to church due to the stigma. Stigma is the single greatest barrier to people getting effective treatment. Leaders of a parish, diocese, or other Catholic organizations can fight stigma by learning the signs of mental illness and reaching out to those living with the illness.
People can and do recover from mental illness. Recovery is the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life, to be a member of a community despite the continuing challenges of living with mental illness. Recovery can be thought of as a table with four legs. All four legs must be whole, strong and firmly attached for recovery to take hold.
NCPD has a Council on Mental Illness which works to provide resources for persons with mental illness and their families. They recently published a resource entitled A Pastoral Response to Mental Illness in collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In addition to this resource, the council also recently revised their Mental Illness Theological Framework. For more information, browse the resources below!