Mental Health Awareness

I take this opportunity to share about mental health in three sections, first, the Word of God, Second with the help of a Saint’s life and third, my own life experience. The topic of this month “Mental Health Awareness” is a bold and essential topic for the times we are currently witnessing. In fact, in the UK we have Mental Health Awareness Week from 10th-16th May 2021 with a theme “Connect to Nature”. It does not matter you are a child, young or senior, male, or female, any background or faith, the mental health challenge has no boundaries. As Christians, we have the responsibility to look after our own mental health and the people around us. 

The Holy Scripture is a source of Strength and Healing:

In Biblical theology, we learn that the Holy Trinity exists in eternity, the three persons – The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Genesis 1; John 1:1) The human person must remember, we are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), and God is love (1 John 4:7-8), hence we cannot survive without love, the same way a fish cannot survive without water. One of the main challenges in today’s world is lack of love, in the words of Saint Mother Theresa “Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own”. Jesus Christ calls us to love our neighbour as self (Matthew 22:39), is the solution to overcome mental health challenges in our families and surroundings. Love heals and binds everyone together (Colossians 3:14), love overcomes fear (1 John 4:18), love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), love wipes out differences, love fills wounds, love gives strength, love gives purpose, all that we do should be done with love, which makes human person fruitful (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Always remember, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Life of Saint Dymphna – Patron saint of the mentally ill and those with nervous disorders:

Saint Dymphna was born in Ireland in the 7th Century, her mother was a committed Catholic and her father was a pagan king. Her mother baptised Saint Dymphna and at the age of 14, she consecrated herself to Jesus Christ and took a vow of chastity. After her mother’s death, her father’s mental health deteriorated, and Saint Dymphna faced challenges against her vow of chastity. Hence, Saint Dymphna ran away to Belgium and started her mission to serve the poor and sick. Eventually, her father comes to know and tries to bring her back to Ireland, when she resisted, her father drew his sword and struck off his daughter’s head. She was 15 years old when she died. Soon after her death, people experienced miracles, especially the people who are seeking treatment for psychiatric disorders. As per the tradition goes Saint Dymphna feast is celebrated on May 15th and she is the patron saint of mental illness and anxiety. In the UK we have an active community Saint Dymphna Befriending Group – supporting communities since 2011, the volunteers take time to visit people who are experiencing mental health challenges, particularly loneliness. 

Sharing two life experience which changed me as a person:

While I was attending University, away from family and friends, for the first time I experienced real loneliness. It was one of the youths from another department invited me to attend a prayer group. The first visit to the prayer group connected me with like-minded youth who gave warm welcome, willing to listen and discuss. Throughout my time at University, I always looked forward to the prayer meetings. It is essential for our mental health we are connected to people who are welcoming, willing to listen and open to have conversations. During this pandemic why not join an online prayer group or start a prayer group?

After University, I moved to London and lived in a guesthouse run by the ‘Augustinians of the Assumption’. I had the opportunity to work with the father superior of the community, after two years of stay my life moved on, however, I continued to keep in touch. Later father superior became my spiritual father and gave valuable advice which helped in my vocation, guided me through my B. Divinity studies, we completed writing a book together, and currently helping with my M.A in Applied Theology studies. The priest who has served the community across the world for over 50 years, took retirement and living in a community in Hitchin, currently, at the age of 84 his biggest challenge is loneliness, he looks forward to our weekly phone call and we discuss everything from weather, health, scripture, prayer request, studies, families, and British politics. Why not reach out to a retired people’s care home, or a retired priest, or someone who lost a member of their family, and share your time listening?

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are running a brilliant initiative to support all faithful with much-needed care, teaching, and material to help. Sharing the link of the Catholic Mental Health Project

Let us join in prayer and say the litany of Saint Dymphna:

Saint Dymphna – pray for us.

2 thoughts on “Mental Health Awareness

  1. Good to impart ideas about mental health. Continue the good service.
    Kindly give me your email id. Although I am in India I have close relatives in Sheffield
    who need your help. Please contact me. Fr. Paul B. Kadicheeni, CMI.

    need your help.

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