A real COVID-19 challenge: Mental Health
It is clear that the isolation due COVID-19 has placed great stress on the mental health issues of Australians. Among other issues, loneliness is a foundational experience of so many, especially these days. Unchecked, it can really challenge the mental health of people.
This year’s Social Statement of the Bishops of Australia is titled: “To Live Life to the Full: Mental Health in Australia Today.” As the President of the Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, states in the Foreword: “People in our families, faith communities, workplaces and society are suffering mental ill-health – and they can be of any age or socio-economic background. Whoever and whatever they are, they need our understanding and support.”
The statement explores mental health in our communities. Incredibly, the risk of mental illness affects up to a quarter of the population. We have come a long way from the stigmatisation of previous centuries regarding mental illness. Yet, much still needs to be done to embrace in solidarity the dignity of human persons in times of vulnerability and disadvantage in this area.
The Statement identifies “a range of matters that require reflection and action in our parishes and local communities, and in government policy and service provision”. To live life to the full (see John 10/10) means that appropriate care is to be offered “for everyone experiencing mental ill-health”.
There is a confidence among the Bishops that “the energy, insight, and commitment needed are present among members of the Catholic community and all people of goodwill.”
I am reminded of Pope Francis’ often quoted plea that the isolation many feel in these terrible times can only be responded to by our efforts to remain close to each other, especially the most vulnerable. Mental health is certainly one such vulnerable group. Let us consider practical ways we can continue to do this in our communities.
I strongly recommend your study of this Statement on such a current topic in our communities.
An electronic version of the Statement can be found on Australian Bishops Conference website: www.catholic.org.au