Catholic Institute for Mental Health Ministry

The Catholic Institute for Mental Health Ministry is located in the School of Leadership and Education Science (SOLES) at the University of San Diego. The University of San Diego is a Catholic liberal arts university founded in 1949 by Mother Rosalie Hill of the Society of the Sacred Heart and Bishop Charles Francis Buddy of the Diocese of San Diego.

Informed by the Gospel of John, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10); we seek to enable the Church be a healing presence to help people find wholeness and peace in the midst of mental health problems and illnesses.

Our Work

Our method is to develop, provide and facilitate an effective and responsive network of trained mental health organizers and mental health ministry leaders in Dioceses and parishes throughout the United States. The Diocese of San Diego has an established Mental Health Ministry Network that serves as one potentially replicable example.

The mental health organizers and mental health ministry leaders will establish mental health ministry teams in their Dioceses and parishes.  The mental health ministry leaders and teams will serve as “prayerful companions” for fellow parishioners experiencing mental illness, provide them with referrals, walk with them through the treatment process, and provide parish-wide education on the subject of mental illness.

What is Mental Health Ministry?

As delineated by the Diocese of San Diego, Office of Social Ministries, mental health ministry leaders and teams do not take on the roles of psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists. Rather, they simply supply prayer and human connections as an adjunct to standard treatment of mental illness.

In addition to training in the implementation of mental health ministries, grantees will be trained in the essentials of mental health first aid.  Just as many of us have completed Red Cross First Aid and CPR certification, mental health first aid follows a similar model and is designed to train lay people how to recognize indicators of mental health problems, how to talk appropriately to individuals experiencing mental health problems and how to make appropriate referrals for additional resources.

Expected Impact

We expect the impact of mental health ministries to create a culture of spiritual support and care in the parish communities and also to reduce the stigma that may be associated with mental health.  A large part of the Institute's work is the implementation of rigorous methodologies to advance the empirical investigation of the impact of mental health ministries.  The Institute also provides technical assistance to grantees implementing mental health networks and ministries.