Catholic Institute for Mental Health Ministry

Who We Are

The Catholic Institute for Mental Health Ministry (CIMHM) is located in the School of Leadership and Education Science (SOLES) at the University 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 ministry leaders in Dioceses and parishes throughout the United States. 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. Through three-year start-up grants, we are currently supporting the implementation of mental health ministries in the following Dioceses:

What is Mental Health Ministry?

Mental health ministry leaders and teams do not take on the roles of psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists. Rather, they supply prayer, accompaniment and human connections as an adjunct to standard treatment of mental illness.  In addition to training in the implementation of mental health ministries, our grantees are 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.
Two women in rocking chairs talking to each other in a library.
Ministry Teams Collaborating on mental health projects.
View of USD's Immaculata dome.

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