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Finding connections PDF Print E-mail

05 October 2014: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Do these things and the God of peace will be with you

MENTAL HEALTH WEEK 5-12 October 2014

Much of the suffering of people with mental illnesses and of their relatives and friends comes from the way it disconnects. People with mental illness often feel alone and isolated. They cannot move easily out of their narrow world to engage with other people and the public world. So they withdraw into their own world of pain and separation.

Person sitting on a bench

Isolation makes it hard for many young people with mental illness to take the initiative in seeking help or even in continuing with treatment they have started. If they are required to make appointments to come to a large office where they know no one, they will often not seek help. They need people to accompany them if they are to take what, for them, are huge steps to move away from addiction and to find the help they need to deal with their illness. Like all of us they flourish when their unique human dignity is affirmed and respected. In their case this affirmation depends largely on the quality of the relationship we can build with them.

The Jesuit Social Services Connexions program was built around the relationships that outreach workers built up with vulnerable young people. Now it has lost significant funding. That is also a loss for young people. Marisa, one of the young people in the program, left school at 13, smoked cannabis and developed schizophrenia. She said of her outreach worker who left the program because of the loss of funding, ‘It makes me sad because I really did like Loretta. I got used to her’. When asked what the program meant to her, Marisa says, ‘Well I've quit cannabis and I didn't see a way out of that. And I've gone back to see my grandparents. Yeah I've come back to school which I haven't done in a while. And I'm enjoying my life a lot more now’.

This is huge growth. It usually happens only when young people find companions to walk with them in their chaotic lives, build trust with them, and to introduce them at the right time to people who can help them. An important way through mental illness is finding connections.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ | Image from pixabay.com

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