April 29, 2021 May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an immense amount of stress globally over the last year, with increased anxiety and fear. Additionally, there has been an increase in child abuse and domestic abuse, further signs that proper social and emotional health are not being adequately addressed. In their 2018 pastoral statement on mental health, the California Conference of Bishops encouraged all "to encounter our brothers and sisters who struggle with mental illness. Even those who do not have serious mental health problems can, to some extent, understand the experience of those who do: for not one of us is entirely free from periods of anxiety, emotional distress, troubling or intrusive thoughts, or strong temptations." You will find links to PDFs of the statement in English, Spanish and Vietnamese as well as a study/discussion guide for small groups to reflect on the document here. Many Catholic Charities around California offer mental health programs and counseling: The Diocese of San Diego’s The Office for Family Life & Spirituality maintains a network of local therapists who are comfortable integrating their clients’ spirituality into their practice. Catholic Charities of Yolo Solano: New Pathways Counseling Services provides professional, confidential, and affordable counseling services to Solano and Yolo county area residents. Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County offers a number of services that can help older adults, adults and children get on the road to wellness and recovery to overcome these barriers and make positive life changes. Catholic Charities of the East Bay offers Mental Health First Aid trainings that seek to empower community members to respond compassionately and directly when someone experiences a mental health challenge. This is just a sampling of mental health resources offered by dioceses, ministries and parishes throughout the Golden State. Check with your diocese or your parish for resources available in your community. “I have a dogmatic certainty,” said Pope Francis, that “God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else- God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.” – Pope Francis.