California Bishops Call for End to Social Stigma Around Mental Illness

In an unprecedented pastoral letter entitled “Hope and Healing,” California’s Catholic Bishops are calling for an end to the stigma around mental illness and greater collaboration between science, medical professionals and people of faith.  The May 1, 2018 letter stated: “there is no shame in receiving a diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder… mental illness is neither a moral failure nor a character defect.”

In some aspects, the Bishops’ letter stems from ecumenical teamwork between Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, California and Pastor Rick Warren, well-known evangelical pastor (Saddleback Church) and author. Following the suicide of Pastor Warren’s son, he and Bishop Vann organized two major mental health forums to bring Catholics and evangelicals to unite on the issue. Other California dioceses followed suit.  Based on Pope Francis’ theme of building a “culture of encounter,” the bishops expressed the need for direct engagement and friendship for those suffering from mental illness and encourages not only Catholics but “all people of goodwill” to advocate and care for the mentally ill.

It is estimated that one in five adults in the United States suffers from some form of mental disorder, and twenty percent of our adolescent population is currently undergoing treatment for a serious mental disorder or have been previously treated.  Two of the US recent mass shooting incidents raised the urgent need for early intervention with individuals struggling with mental illness, as well as our growing teen suicide rate and opioid epidemic.

Click here to review the Crux article in its entirety

A related story in Crux covering the personal friendship and ecumenical efforts of Pastor Warren and Bishop Vann can be reviewed by clicking here.

Click here to review a Chicago Catholic article regarding a mental health initiative recently launched at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.