May is Mental Health Awareness Month: How is the Church at Work?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and has been in the press in a number of ways that can help inform and encourage understanding of mental health issues in parishes and communities, as well as support focused efforts to better include and serve people who are challenged in their behavioral health. Here are a few highlights with linked resources.

On April 27, Bishop Neary published a column in the Central Minnesota Catholic explaining his diocesan initiative to develop a Mental Health Ministry.

On May 20, Florida Catholic News (attributed to OSV News) published the article Experts: Mental health ministry a dire need across the U.S. church, describing the advent of mental health ministry and resources available at the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers.

The Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers offers a variety of resources to support establishing mental health ministry at the parish or diocese level, including webinars, newsletters, courses, and implementation guides.

On May 22, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published a bulletin encouraging people to encourage each other, and to access their available resources including: Mental Health Awareness Month Toolkit; social media messaging tools; and other available events, online resources and online training.

If you want to know behavioral health statistics for your local community, you can access a wealth of data through Minnesota Compass, including the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System, Minnesota Student Survey, Substance Use in Minnesota. The Minnesota County Health Tables provide additional data, including behavioral health data. These data sets can help understand the salient and latent behavioral health issues in communities, and guide a focused response to better prevent behavioral health problems, and better include and support persons working through behavioral health challenges of their own or in their family.

(art credit: St. Anthony Heals the Sick by Fr. William Hart McNichols)

Are you feeling called by your Catholic faith to support ministry to persons or families facing behavioral health challenges, or communities in working effectively with behavioral health? Are you studying for or working in a profession of supporting persons or families with behavioral health challenges, or in supporting communities in preventing and responding to behavioral health concerns? Or maybe you find yourself in that role within your own community or family? Are you considering whether the Secular Franciscan Order (O.F.S.) would bring and grow the spiritual dimension in your daily life and work? We would love to hear from you! E-mail the St. Cloud Fraternity of Secular Franciscans at

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