Do Not Be Afraid

A national initiative by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, supported in WA by The Emmanuel Centre

Do Not Be Afraid is the mental health and wellbeing program developed by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference as a resource for parishes to minister to people with mental ill-health and their families. 

The Emmanuel Centre has developed this page as a complimentary online resource, providing West Australian specific content as well as a range of additional information and video material.

It is our hope that it will be a valuable resource for families as they work their way through the Do Not Be Afraid booklet, and assist people in ministry to prepare workshops and seminars for their local parish or community group. There is also practical advice for those wanting to establish a mental health ministry in their parish.

The content menu follows the same weekly structure as the booklet and the video resources have been categorised as either primary or secondary, based on their credibility as sources either scientifically or theologically.

We would like to thank all of those researchers, people in ministry and organisations (including the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference) who have so generously agreed to let us use their work as a resource to help others in the Archdiocese of Perth.

Letter From Bishop Don Sproxton: Disability Delegate to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Bishop Don

Dear Friends in Christ,

One in five Australians will experience mental illness this year. When your parish or community gathers, nearly everyone there will know someone who has a mental illness of varying severity and duration.

Because of the stigma attached to mental illness, few will come forward; but it is there.

The stigma of mental illness can be as damaging to families and carers as the illness itself. In fact, misconceptions about mental illness often exasperate the condition.

The fact is that at some time, we may suffer a form of mental illness. We may feel depressed or experience anxiety. This may lead to isolation and loneliness.

As Christians, we are called to be welcoming and loving to all. ‘We are one body in Christ”. As one body, we all experience suffering in one way or another and we look to God for comfort. Pope Francis reassures us that

“A God who can enter into the depths of our suffering is not repulsed by our woundedness or disfigurements, but who meets us wherever and whoever we are, heals us by bringing us ever closer to himself.”

— Pope Francis, A Big Heart Open to God: A Conversation with Pope Francis

So, if our God can meet us where we are, surely we are called to meet our brothers and sisters suffering with the isolation and loneliness mental illness can sometimes bring.

We are called to provide opportunities to welcome, encounter and embrace our total community as the living body of Christ.

To be authentic, this view must include every member of the community acknowledging their call, their gift and their presence. We cannot claim to be truly disciples of Jesus unless we are totally engaged in honouring His presence in each one and in building and nurturing this community to be a living witness of that presence. Clearly this is a revealed truth that is fundamental to our sense of our own real value. Just as clearly this truth should be so evident in our lived experience that others are drawn to know, understand and experience the Father’s love that Jesus reveals.

People living with mental health challenges are no less members of the Body of Christ than anyone else. Obviously there are particular challenges to enabling their full participation in the life of the community. Some of these challenges are visible and many others not so clearly identified. Once we acknowledge these challenges we can work together to ensure that all the gifts that flow through the Body of Christ can be shared by each member of that Body.

Yours sincerely in Jesus,

+ Donald Sproxton
Bishop Delegate for Disability Issues
Bishops Commission for Social Justice — Mission and Service Australian Catholic Bishops Conference