‘For I am Lonely and Afflicted’

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‘For I am Lonely and Afflicted’

February 4, 2014

Downloadable PDF version HERE.

‘For I Am Lonely and Afflicted’

Toward a just response to the needs of people with mental illness

A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of New York State

Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.

Relieve the troubles of my heart;

and free me from my anguish.

 (PS 25: 16-17)

Severe-depressionMental 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.

We have no better example of how to respond to those with mental illness than that of Jesus Christ. Time and again throughout the New Testament, we encounter our Lord’s mercy toward