By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis on Friday, addressed participants at the second National Conference on Mental Health promoted by the Italian Ministry of Health.
Extending his greetings to them, the Pope said that the event gives him the opportunity to express his esteem and that of the Church for physicians and healthcare workers who are involved in this delicate field.
Further underlining the importance of their work, the Holy Father noted that their commitment to offering appropriate treatment to people suffering from mental disorders is “a great good for people and for society” especially as they “have felt with particular gravity, the devastating psychological effects of the pandemic.”
Need for improved health care systems
“It is therefore desirable,” the Pope stressed, “on the one hand, to strengthen the health care system for the protection of mental illness” including providing support for those engaged in scientific research on such pathologies.
“On the other hand,” he continued, it is necessary to “promote associations and volunteer organizations that work alongside the sick and their families.”
Pope Francis went on to highlight the need to involve the living context of mental health patients so that they do not lack the “warmth and affection of a community.”
“Medical professionalism itself benefits from integral care of the person,” the Pope insisted, adding that caring for one’s neighbour is not only a skilled job but a real mission that is fully realized when “scientific knowledge meets the fullness of humanity and is translated into the tenderness that knows how to approach and take others to heart.”
A renewed sensitivity toward mental health patients
Turning his attention to the conference, the Pope expressed hope that it will inspire in institutions, educational agencies and society, “a renewed sensitivity” toward those suffering from mental health problems in order to instill “greater confidence in our brothers and sisters, marked by fragility”.
He went on to note that it is a question of helping to overcome the stigma attached to mental health problems and to make the “culture of community” prevail over the “throw-away” mentality which values more those who bring productive advantages to society and forgets that “those who suffer make the irrepressible beauty of human dignity shine forth in their wounded lives.”
Amid the ongoing health emergency, the Holy Father highlighted the sacrifice of the health workers and encouraged them to continue “on the path of caring in solidarity.”
He noted that the pandemic confronted health workers with enormous challenges which brought to the fore, the need to have appropriate health care systems that do not leave anyone behind but takes care of everyone “in an inclusive and participatory way.”
Concluding his message, Pope Francis extended his good wishes to the conference’s participants and assured them of his prayers for all health workers, volunteers, patients and their families.