'For I Am Lonely and Afflicted' A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of New York State (2014)

by Richard E. Barnes  |  02/04/2020  |  Catholic Church Documents

Mental illness does not discriminate. Neither age, nor ethnicity, nor economic or social status exempts one from its effects. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults, some 61.5 million people, experience some form of mental illness in a given year, and one in 17, or 13.6 million, live with a serious mental illness.

About 20 percent of youth experience severe mental disorders in a given year. And for every mentally ill individual there is a family – parents, spouses, children, grandparents – who are directly impacted as well.

In our society, those with mental illness are often stigmatized, ostracized and alone. The suffering endured by mentally ill persons is a most difficult cross to bear, as is the sense of powerlessness felt by their families and loved ones. As the Psalmist called on God to deliver him from affliction and distress, so, too, does the person with mental illness cry out for healing. Our Judeo-Christian tradition calls us to be witnesses of God’s love and mercy and to be instruments of hope for these individuals.

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