Stress, depression, and burnout:
The Pope asks all to be close to those who are feeling overwhelmed
The Pope Video for November has been released, in which Pope Francis expresses his closeness to all those who are feeling overwhelmed in their daily life, above all those suffering from stress and depression, and he asks us to pray that they receive the help they need.
(Vatican City, November 3, 2021) – In the new Pope Video which has been recently released, Francis entrusts his prayer intention for the month of November to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. On this occasion, the Holy Father calls our attention to the stress and depression affecting many people. Aware that people around the world are going through times of mental, emotional, and affective exhaustion (in varying forms and degrees), the Pope asks that they be adequately accompanied, that we pray for them, and that Jesus’ closeness not be forgotten.
This edition of The Pope Video was created with the support of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, an association which offers spiritual support to people suffering some form of mental illness, and which fosters actions to prevent any kind of discrimination that would impede them from participating fully in the life of the Church.
Depression and anxiety: the most common mental health disorders
The message of Pope Francis’ prayer intention addresses a central issue in the lives of millions of people: mental health. In the video, he explains that in many cases, “sadness, apathy, and spiritual tiredness end up dominating people’s lives, which are overloaded due to the rhythm of life today.”
In fact, a study published this year estimates that about one in ten people worldwide lives with a mental health disorder—that is to say, about 792 million people, or 11% of the population. Among the various disorders that exist, the study identifies depression (264 million, 3%) and anxiety (284 million, 4%) as the most prevalent in people’s lives.
The UN in turn warns that when depression is recurrent and moderate or severe in intensity, it can become a serious health condition. In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to suicide, which currently takes the lives of more than 700,000 people every year and is the fourth leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.
Mental health in times of COVID-19
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has caused the death of millions of people. It has also tried the mental and emotional resilience of countless people and has affected their psychological equilibrium. Sometimes, this has created situations of real anguish and despair. With this reality in view, the Holy Father asks that we “be close to those who are exhausted, to those who are desperate, without hope. Often, we should simply listen in silence.”
The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has drawn up a document directed to those who want to help accompany people who are suffering psychologically, above all due to the pandemic. It highlights some of the main causes, such as uncertainty about having a job in the future, which have affected mentally healthy people or have worsened serious mental disorders such as depression, panic attacks, and anxiety, among other related pathologies.
A healing presence
The Pope’s message is shared by the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, a lay association of the Christian faithful founded in the United States, whose members are called to be a healing presence in the lives of people with mental illness. Its president, permanent deacon Ed Shoener, explained the need to respond to Pope Francis’ call: “Our mission is to support the growth of mental health ministry in the Church. Pope Francis has said that we need to fully overcome the stigma with which mental illness has often been branded in order to ensure that a culture of community prevails over the mentality of rejection. We are committed to following the Pope’s call to build a community of warmth and affection where people who live with depression and other mental health challenges can find hope and healing“.
Jesus’ words: “Come to me, all you who are heavy laden.”
Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, commented on this intention: “Our societies, with their rhythm of life and their ever-faster technologies, foster depression and the syndrome of exhaustion and stress known as burnout. The pandemic has increased the suffering of many people. Francis asks us to pray and to be close to those who suffer extreme mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. Psychological accompaniment is needed; however, he reminds us that Jesus’ words also help, offering consolation and care: ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ This is also the advice of Evagrius Ponticus, a 4th-century Desert Father called the ‘scrutinizer of the soul,’ who identified eight sicknesses of the soul, and proposed paths of life, meditating on the Word of God.”
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Where can you watch the video?
- Official website of The Pope Video
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- The Pope on Twitter @Pontifex
- The Pope on Instagram @Franciscus
About The Pope Video
The Pope Video is an official global initiative with the purpose of disseminating the Holy Father’s monthly prayer intentions. It is carried out by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer). Since the year 2016, The Pope Video has had more than 158 million views across all its social networks, and is translated into more than 23 languages, receiving press coverage in 114 countries. The videos are produced and created by the team of The Pope Video of the Prayer Network, coordinated by Andrea Sarubbi, with the support of La Machi Communication for Good Causes agency. The project is supported by Vatican Media. More information at: The Pope Video
About the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network is a Vatican foundation, with the mission of mobilizing Catholics through prayer and action in response to the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church. These challenges are presented in the form of prayer intentions entrusted by the Pope to the entire Church. The foundation’s mission is inscribed in the dynamic of the Heart of Jesus, a mission of compassion for the world. It was founded in 1844 as the Apostleship of Prayer. It is present in 89 countries and is made up of more than 22 million Catholics. It includes a youth branch, the EYM: Eucharistic Youth Movement. In December 2020, the Pope constituted this pontifical work as a Vatican foundation and approved its new statutes. Its international director is Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ. For more information, visit: https://www.popesprayer.va
About the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers
The Association for Catholic Mental Health Ministers is a Lay Association of the Christian Faithful whose members are called to be a healing presence in the lives of people with mental illness. The Association works to make mental health ministry an integral and common ministry in the Church that is available in every Catholic parish and community. Mental health ministry provides spiritual support to people living with a mental illness to assist them to live in holiness and educates and informs the Catholic community about the issues, struggles and joys that can be found in people living with a mental illness. The Association provides the tools, methods and insights that allow catholic leaders to confidently minister to people with a mental illness without fear or prejudice. You can learn more about mental health ministry by visiting the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers at: catholicmhm.org
+34 633 32 33 29
ASSOCIATION OF CATHOLIC MENTAL HEALTH MINISTERS
Deacon Ed Shoener
+1 570 207 2229
 WHO, 2021. “Depression Fact Sheets”. Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression> [Last accessed: 20/09/2021]
 Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 2020. “Accompanying People in Psychological Distress in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Available at: <https://www.humandevelopment.va/content/dam/sviluppoumano/documenti/2021-mentalhealthcovid/EN-2021-MentalHealthCovid-Humandevelopment.pdf>