Mental Health Ministry

“Whoever suffers mental illness always bears God’s image and likeness, and has an inalienable right to be considered a person and treated as such.”

– St. Pope John Paul II

As many as one in four families will experience some form of mental illness and the accompanying effects. Mental illness can strike anyone regardless of creed, color, gender, status or age. Those experiencing a mental illness often feel isolated due to stigma and discrimination in society, at work, in their homes, and even in faith communities. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to encounter and accompany the living Christ in all persons. Whether you are suffering from a mental health challenge or illness or walking with a family member or friend in their struggles, please check out the resources on this page for help.

6.7% (16.2 million)

adults (age 18 or older) had a major depressive
episode during the past year


12.8% (3.1 million)

youth (aged 12 to 17) had a major depressive
episode during the past year


help and healing

what parishes can do

Calendar of Events for

Mental Health Ministry

ministerial resources


Suicide Prevention

Are you in crisis?
Do you know someone who is?

Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 9-8-8, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the NSPL’s website.

Lifeline 9-8-8 ofrece servicios gratuitos en español las 24 horas del de día, los 7 días de la semana, y no es necesario hablar inglés si usted necesita ayuda.Obtenga más información en español aquí.

Download the bookmark PDF

resources by topic

“Balancing Adverse Childhood Experiences with Hope: New Insights into the Role of Positive Experience on Child and Family Development” (PDF) (An excellent resource from Casey Family Programs.)

When my siblings died by suicide, the church failed us. Now, it’s finally listening. Article in America Magazine by Med Kissinger, February 2, 2024.

“The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress” (PDF)(A science-based article from the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.)

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — the largest, most important public health study you never heard of — began in an Obesity Clinic (DOC) (Jane Stevens, 2012)

From the Center for Youth Wellness: “An Unhealthy Dose of Stress” (PDF) – A brief summation about ACEs explained with an example; very helpful.

“What does it mean for a ministry to be trauma-informed?” (PDF) (Chaplain Chris Haughee, 2016)

“Partnering With God: Religious Coping and Perceptions of Divine Intervention Predict Spiritual Transformation in Response to Religious−Spiritual Struggle” (PDF)(Article from the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.)

ACEs and Resilience Handout (PDF) (A brief illustrated summation with resources.)

Trauma the Brain, and Healing Relationships (DOC) (Chaplain Chris Haughee – Contains link to an excellent 25-minute video by experts, including Dr. Bruce Perry.)

Alcohol Use Disorder: A Medical Perspective by Joseph P. Collins, D.O. – Saint Luke Institute (PDF)

CATHOLIC IN RECOVERY: Offering hope and healing for those recovering from addictions, compulsions, and unhealthy attachments


Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, by Richard Rohr, OFM

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Maté, M.D.


The Red Bird Ministries Lenten Journal, I am Beloved, not Broken, speaks to the hearts of all grieving parents of child loss

Diocese of Atlanta Bereavement Course

Statement on Grief in English and Spanish – St. Joachim, Diocese of Orange (DOCX)

Seeking and Receiving Post-Abortive Healing – Relevent Radio


Divine Worship and Human Healing: Liturgical Theology at the Margins of Life and Death, by Bruce T. Morrill, S.J.

Hope Deferred: Heart-Healing Reflections on Reproductive Loss, edited by Nadine Pence Frantz, Ph.D., and Mary T. Stimming, Ph.D.

Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion, by Theresa Burke, Ph.D.

Living in the Shadow of the Ghosts of Grief: Step into the Light, Reconcile Old Losses, and Open The Door to Infinite Joy and Love, by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

  • A good text for dealing with accumulated and carried grief.

Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self, by Susan J. Brison, Ph.D.

  • Trigger warning: A very difficult story of rape, but the author describes well the journey toward healing and the integration of new identity and understanding of self.

Survivor Prayers: Talking with God about Childhood Sexual Abuse, by Catherine J. Foote

You Have Set Us Free: Scriptural Reflections for Trauma Survivors, by Fr. Kenneth W. Schmidt

Take and Make Holy: Honoring the Sacred in the Healing Journey of Abuse Survivors, by Mari West Zimmerman

Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church, by Presbyterian Pastor Carol Howard Merritt

Good Goats: Healing Our Image of God, by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn, S.J.

May I Hate God?by Fr. Pierre Wolff

  • A brief text filled with ways to pray with scripture in working through pain and anger, written by a former Jesuit priest who is now an Episcopal priest.

Picturing God, by Ann Belford Ulanov, Ph.D.

The Healer of Shattered Hearts: A Jewish View of God, by Rabbi David Wolpe

  • Fascinating, relatable, and touching.

Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times, by Rabbi David Wolpe

Kayak Mornings: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats, by Roger Rosenblatt

Forgive Everyone Everything, by Fr. Gregory Boyle

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Fr. Gregory Boyle

Souls in the Hands of a Tender God: Stories of the Search for Home and Healing on the Streets, by Craig Rennebohm (UCC Minister)

  • “Since 1987, Craig Rennebohm has ministered to people who are homeless and struggling with mental illness…With gentleness and grace, solid knowledge and wisdom, [he] reaches out to each of them, and their stories become parables that explore mental illness and the spiritual heart of care and recovery.”

Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential – and Endangered, by Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D. and Maia Szalavitz

Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, by James Martin, SJ

Mental Health and the Church: A Ministry Handbook for Including Children and Adults with ADHD, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, and other Common Mental Health Conditions, by Stephen Grcevich, M.D.


Risking Connection in Faith Communities: A Training Curriculum for Faith Leaders Supporting Trauma Survivors.

This is a 16-hour training for faith leaders. For more information email:


Catechism of the Catholic Church on Suicide (2280-2283) (PDF)

Prayer after Suicide (PDF)

Pope prays for those with mental illness and victims of suicide – Aleteia article – 1/10/21 (PDF)

Intercessory Prayers Addressing Mental Illness, Suicidality and Suicide Loss (PDF)

Prayer of the Faithful for Suicide Awareness Month (DOCX)

Suicide and Our Misunderstandings – Ron Rolheiser, OMI – 6/22 (PDF)

Karla Smith’s Serenity Prayer from the film, “When a Loved One Dies by Suicide” (PDF)

RECongress PowerPoint on Suicide and the Church – Deacon Ed Shoener – 3/22 (PDF)

Prayer Service at the Palace of Suicide (PDF)

Suicide Nurse Corner in English and Spanish _ St. Joachim, Diocese of Orange (DOCX)

Homily – Suicide Awareness Month – Deacon Ed Shoener (PDF)

Mass of Remembrance – Phoenix, AZ – 9/4/22 (YouTube)

A Life Changed by Suicide: Bishop Dolan’s Story (YouTube)

Living Rosary Prayers and Resources – Diocese of Rockford (PDF)

Homily – Suicide Remembrance and Healing Mass – Deacon Ed Shoener – 9/18/22 (PDF)

Program – Suicide Remembrance Mass – Diocese of Scranton – 9/18/22 (PDF)


The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

It’s Not You, It’s What Happened to You: Complex Trauma and Treatment, by Christine A. Courtois, Ph.D.

  • A well-written and brief text by an expert psychologist regarding impact of trauma. Very readable for the average person.

What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, by Bruce D. Perry, M.D., and Oprah Winfrey

  • Bruce Perry is a pediatric psychiatrist and trauma specialist who explains complex issues very well for the average person. Anything authored by him is worth reading.
  • Link to audiobook:

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook – What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us, by Bruce D. Perry, M.D. and Maia Szalavitz

  • Trigger warning: some of these true stories can be unsettling, however, Dr. Perry teaches very well from those stories, and deepens understanding and empathy.



Lamentations & Tears of the World, by Kathleen M. O’Connor, Ph.D.

Bible through the Lens of Trauma, edited by Elizabeth Boase, Ph.D., and Christopher G. Frechette, Ph.D.

Trauma-Sensitive Theology: Thinking Theologically in the Era of Trauma, by Jennifer Baldwin, Ph.D.

Lament: Reclaiming Practices in Pulpit, Pew, and Public Square, edited by Sally A. Brown, Ph.D., and Patrick D. Miller, Ph.D.

Resurrecting Wounds: Living in the Afterlife of Trauma, Shelly Rambo, Ph.D.

  • A theological reflection on our own woundedness in light of Christ’s woundedness.

The Shame That Lingers: A Survivor-Centered Critique of Catholic Sin-Talk, by A. Denise Starkey, Ph.D.

Redeeming Memories: A Theology of Healing and Transformation, by Flora Keshgegian, Ph.D.

  • Very helpful and readable text by an Episcopal theologian.

God and the Victim: Traumatic Intrusions on Grace and Freedom, by Jennifer Erin Beste, Ph.D.

  • Very readable and informative text written by a Catholic theologian, which examines impact of trauma in light of Jesuit Karl Rahner’s writings.

Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining, by Shelly Rambo, Ph.D.

Informative and readable text examining impact of trauma and recovery in light of what it means to “remain” from the Holy Gospel according to John. Essentially a theology of Holy Saturday. Excellent text.



Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes: Infancy through Adolescence – Awakening the Ordinary Miracle, by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. and Maggie Kline, MS, MFT

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, by Daniel J Siegel, M.D.

  • Well-written and very readable.

The Long Shadow of Sexual Abuse: Developmental Effects Across the Life Cycle, by Calvin, A. Colarusso, M.D.

ACEs Primer (5 min)

Nadine Burke-Harris, M.D.: Ted-Talk on ACEs (15 min)

Trauma, Brain, and Relationship: Helping Children Heal (25 min)

Connecting Trauma, Neuroscience, and Addiction – Bruce Perry, M.D. (37 min)

Center for Loss and Life Transition:

  • Source for numerous texts on healing and grief after a wide variety of losses. The author, Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., is a psychologist specializing in grief and provides both education and practical, tangible ideas for ways to actively mourn and work through grief. Highly recommended.

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University:

  • Excellent and current multi-lingual resources, based on solid and ongoing research, regarding brain/body development in context of adversity, along with suggested actions that help. Resources are in all types of media, with some being quite brief and succinct, and produced in a way understandable for the average person. Highly recommended.

Beyond Consequences Institute:

  • Trauma-informed resources and solutions for schools, parents, and professionals. Highly recommended.


Esperanza Y Sanación: carta pastoral de los obispos de California (Hope and Healing: A Pastoral Letter from the Bishiops of California) (PDF)

The Sanctuary Course para Católicos (The Sanctuary Course for Catholics in Spanish)

Estaciones de la Cruz (Stations of the Cross) (DOCX)

La siguiente oración se dice diariamente: Cada Día Oración (Each Day Prayer) (PDF)

Proceso de Alcance Comunitario (Community Outreach Process) (PDF)

Enfermedad mental con gracia: una serie de 5 noches (en español e inglés) / Mental Illness with Grace: A 5-Night Series (Both Spanish and English) (DOCX)

Anuncios del boletín de la serie educativa parroquial de 4 semanas (español e inglés) / 4 Week Parish Educational Series Bulletin Announcments (Spanish and English) (DOCX)

Acciones Específicas – Deacon Tom Lambert (PDF)

Llevando a Cristo a las familias que atraviesan problemas de salud mental – San Francisco (PDF)

Declaración en inglés y español para el mes de la salud mental (English and Spanish Statement for Mental Health Month) St. Joachim, Diocese of Orange (DOCX)

Declaración sobre el duelo en inglés y español (Statement on Grief in English and Spanish) – St. Joachim, Diocese of Orange (DOCX)

Rincón de enfermeras de prevención del suicidio en inglés y español (Suicide Nurse Corner in English and Spanish) – St. Joachim, Dicoese of Orange (DOCX)

Pasos de acción – Rincón de la enfermera del dolor emocional en inglés y español (Action Steps – Emotional Pain Nurse Corner in English and Spanish) St. Joachim, Diocese of Orange (DOCX)

Sanación a través del amor – Mayo – (Healing Through Love – May) – Most Holy Rosary, Oakland (PDF)

Curación a través del amor Tri-Fold (Healing through Love Tri-Fold) – Most Holy Rosary, Oakland (PDF)

Presentación de información (Information PowerPoint) – Most Holy Rosary, Oakland (PowerPoint)

Acerca de la curación a través del amor PowerPoint (About Healing through Love PowerPoint) – Most Holy Rosary, Oakland (PowerPoint)