Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Mental Health First Aid Workshop Hosted by Diocesan Office of Evangelization

It is an alarming trend that almost 80 percent of U.S. adults report some difficulty in dealing with work, home or social activities due to the prevalence of anxiety and depression.

In response to this growing mental health crisis, the Diocesan Secretariat of Catholic Life and Evangelization welcomed Deacon Edward Shoener of the Diocese of Scranton for a presentation on mental health. Deacon Shoener is the founding member of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers and the Catholic Institute of Mental Health Ministry at the University of San Diego. He also serves as deacon at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton.

Deacon Shoener experienced the tragedy of suicide in his family in 2016 and he responded by co-authoring several books on the topic of responding pastorally when a loved one takes their life. He recently presented at the Vatican in its first ever conference on mental health issues in the Church.

Deacon Shoener presented the Mental Health First Aid course for more than 30 clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese in the February 7 workshop at the Diocesan Center in Harrisburg. The course is designed to teach attendees to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse issues. The training provided skills needed to reach out and provide initial help and support to a person who may be experiencing a coming crisis. It was a daylong workshop that provided a step-by-step action plan to use when providing support when a person is in distress. Using role playing and small group activities, the workshop focused on helping those who suffer from panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, self-injury, psychosis, overdoses and post-traumatic adverse reactions.

Those who attended the workshop represented parishes from across the Diocese interested in starting a mental health ministry that does not diagnosis or provide professional treatment, but rather provides support and understanding to lessen the stigma that is often still placed upon people who suffer from mental health issues.

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

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