Our faith requires a greater sensitivity and commitment to our fellow humans who suffer from mental illness as well as a greater responsibility on our part to recognize their importance to the community and especially communities of faith. In a society that judges a person on the value of what he or she produces, the person living with mental illness is easily seen merely as a burden on society. The temptation is to isolate or marginalize. As Christians, then, we are called unceasingly to affirm their dignity as human beings made in the image and likeness of God, and to recognize their value to the community. The Person with Mental Illness: Bearing God's Image, by Rev. Richard Gill, L.C.
Hear us, O God, Our Savior, as we honor St. Dymphna, patron of those afflicted with
mental and emotional illness. Help us to be inspired by her example and comforted by her merciful help.
How to Help a Person Experiencing a Mental Illness
- Learn to recognize symptoms of mental illness.
- If the person is threatening to harm themselves or others, call 911.
- Listen without feeling obliged to give advice or find solutions. Be accepting and understanding.
- Tell the person they are loved, deserve to feel better, and will feel better with appropriate treatment.
- Encourage the person to get treatment, or in the case of a minor, contact the parent/guardian to take the child for treatment.
- If the person is functional, but refuses to seek treatment, seek assistance from family members, friends, and/or co-workers who may be influential.
- Invite the person to Mass and to participate in the life of your parish without imposing demands and expectations beyond their current ability.
- Allow family members the opportunity to share their sorrows, joys, coping skills, and information about mental illness. Continue to ask about their family member with mental illness.
- Do not assume responsibility for the person's life or treatment.
- Combat the stigma of mental illness by objecting to negative stereotyping.
- Educate yourself and your parish about mental illnesses that effect members of your parish community.
- Advocate for public policies that promote the rights of those with mental illness.
- Educate yourself and your parish on how to be a welcoming, inclusive community, including knowing what members of your community with disabilities hope for.
- Develop ways for people with disabilities to meaningfully participate in liturgy. Click here for guidelines
- Participate in an adapted liturgy service in the Archdiocese of Portland.
Educate Your Parish
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