By Douglas Morino     5/3/2018

Catholic Bishops across California are calling for more attention and resources focused on mental health and addiction awareness. 

To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops on May 2, issued a letter to Catholics across California. The letter, spotlighting the prevalence of mental illness and addiction, calls on people of faith to provide hope, healing and compassion to the suffering.   

“Christ calls us to attend to those who suffer from mental illness and provide hope and healing,” their statement read. “As Catholics, in imitation of our Lord, we are called to provide hope and healing to others.  We profess that every human life is sacred, that all people are created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore a person’s dignity and worth cannot be diminished by any condition, including mental illness.” 

The letter reinforces the commitment of Catholic leaders across California to address the mental illness and addiction crisis gripping the state and support all who may be suffering. 

About 20 percent of adults in the U.S. suffered from a mental disorder over the past year and nearly 10 million American adults have a mental illness that is severe enough to cause serious functional impairment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.  About 20 percent of adolescents currently have, or previously had, a seriously debilitating mental disorder. Mental, neurological, and substance abuse disorders are the single largest source of disability in the U.S., accounting for nearly 20 percent of all disability, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. 

In their letter, the Bishops call on all Christians to support the mentally ill, many of whom suffer in silence. A person diagnosed with a mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder frequently experiences isolation and inadequate support, often because of the unjust social stigma of mental illness, the Bishops wrote.  

“We Christians must encounter them, accompany them, comfort them, and help bear their burdens in solidarity with them—offering our understanding, prayers, and tangible and ongoing assistance,” the Bishops wrote.  

“It is time now to build bridges between science and religion, health care and pastoral care,” the letter added.  

The California Catholic Conference is the public advocacy office of the Bishops of California. Representing the Archbishops of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the Bishops of Fresno, Monterey, Oakland, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Stockton, it is the official voice of the 10 million Catholics and their many parishes, schools, universities, and social service agencies in California.