Dr. Thomas P. Welch, a psychiatrist in private practice in Portland, Ore., and chairman of the Interfaith Council on Mental Health in Portland, said parish staff members are often "the first responders to people experiencing mental health crises." In that group of first responders he includes "clergy, religious, educators, the secretary, the janitor and the groundskeeper." ...Tom & I were on the pastoral council together of my old parish in Portland. We also - along with friends Jackie & James - saved our parish rummage sale from a midnight flood in the parish hall a few years back. AND, his parents live down the street from where I lived during groovy sister reserves as a Candidate. And one last random fact about Tom - his elementary school principal was my Congregation Leader, Sr. Sheila.
He summarized what parishes and individuals can do for people with mental illness and their families in a few words: "Pay attention. Welcome. Include. Accommodate. Pray. Learn and teach." ...
He also urged the inclusion of parishioners with mental illness by inviting them to join in parish activities, volunteer or bring up the offertory gifts at Mass and by encouraging parents of children with mental illness to bring them to Mass.
Back to the article, it's a good read and a very important issue - for parishioners as well as clergy. Jesus is calling us all to the table, after all.