Pope Francis' prayer intention for the month of November - distributed promptly by the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer) - is dedicated to an issue that is often ignored by the media but is very latent in today's society, that of the millions of people suffering from mental health problems.
It is estimated that there are almost 800 million in the world, 11% of the population, and the most frequent disorders have to do with depression (3%) and anxiety (4%), which can very often have the tragic outcome of suicide, the fourth leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29 years. There are also cases of mental and emotional exhaustion, work stress, loneliness, economic uncertainty, anxiety about the future, helplessness in the face of illness...
For this reason, Pope Francis wanted to draw attention to this endemic illness, hoping that these people will be adequately accompanied. There are many cases, in fact, in which "sadness, apathy, spiritual fatigue end up dominating the lives of people, who are overwhelmed by the current pace of life".
The phenomenon has also been exacerbated by the recent pandemic crisis caused by Covid-19, which has tested the mental and emotional endurance of many people, also affecting their psychological balance and causing situations of anguish and despair.
With regard to accompaniment, the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development published a year ago a document on how to show closeness to those who "find themselves in the secret suffering of anguish" in order to "invite them to quench their thirst with the sweet compassion of Christ, who has made himself a neighbor."
Recently, the prefect of the same dicastery, Cardinal Peter Turkson, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day (October 10, 2021), urged all Christians to "become close" to those suffering from mental disorders "to fight against all forms of discrimination and stigmatization against them," as the Holy Father had already urged on several occasions.
To achieve this, it is necessary to adopt "a cultural model that places human dignity at the center and promotes the good for individuals and for society as a whole," the cardinal reiterated.
In his prayer intention, Pope Francis invites us not to forget, however, "that together with the indispensable psychological accompaniment, which is useful and effective, the words of Jesus also help", when he says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest".
The Pope's final prayer is that all these people will find "a light that opens to life" as soon as possible.
The Pontiff's initiative is supported on this occasion by the Association of Catholic Priests for Mental Health, an organization that offers spiritual support to those suffering from mental illness and promotes actions to avoid any type of discrimination that prevents their active participation in the life of the Church.