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Why is this important to my parish community?
A 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.
Do people with mental illness feel welcome in my parish?
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.
Is recovery possible?
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 a 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. This depends on access to help that includes the four legs of recovery.
The Four Legs of Recovery
1. BIOLOGICAL— since this is an illness of the brain, good medical care and often medication are needed.
2. PSYCHOLOGICAL— to ensure a lasting recovery, help is needed with understanding the effects of the disease along with assistance with the stresses of life.
3. SOCIAL— the presence of friends, family, acquaintances and other meaningful relationships is vital.
4. SPIRITUAL— belief, prayer and a welcoming community of faith help the individual to know the love and grace of God is essential and available.