Mental Health, A Neglected Pandemic

Pope Francis prays for those with mental illness and victims of suicide

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup10/10/21

The pandemic has made a tremendous tragedy even worse.

On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to those with mental illness and to victims of suicide.

After praying the midday Angelus on October 10, he said:

I would like to remember our brothers and sisters who suffer from mental illness, and also victims – often young people – of suicide. Let us pray for them and their families, so that they are never left alone, or discriminated against, but instead are welcomed and supported.

One billion people affected worldwide

In a message published this October 10 for World Mental Health Day, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, expressed concern that the pandemic had exacerbated the suffering of people with mental illnesses.

“It is estimated that before the Covid 19 pandemic, nearly a billion people around the world suffered from mental disorders,” he said, lamenting that the pandemic has exacerbated the difficulties.

Deploring the very wide disparities in the management of these diseases across the world – in some countries, “between 75% and 95% of people with mental disorders cannot access mental health services” – the Ghanaian cardinal pleaded for a strengthening of the health system, “in particular by supporting organizations engaged in scientific research on mental illnesses and by promoting models of social inclusion.”

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