Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 25 January |
The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
home iconNews
line break icon

Mental health group applauds bishop for candor about his struggles

Courtesy of the Diocese of Lincoln

John Burger - published on 11/24/20

National Catholic Partnership on Disability's Council on Mental Illness says Bishop Conley's openness will help others.

When Bishop James Conley announced that he was taking a leave of absence as head of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, he began a journey of recovery from depression.

But he was doing more than that, according to a national organization concerned with disabilities. Bishop Conley was sending an important signal that it’s okay to be upfront about one’s mental health issues and that hope and healing are definitely within reach for all who are struggling.

So says the National Catholic Partnership on Disability’s Council on Mental Illness, which issued a statement this week applauding Bishop Conley for “his complete candor regarding his recent experience of coping with mental illness.” 

“Based on Bishop Conley’s public testimony, other individuals in leadership positions are more likely to be upfront about their mental wellbeing, the Council said. “They too are seen as capable of recovery and are finding ways to become more effective and committed to ministry than ever before. An illness is an illness not a weakness of character.” 

Getting over fears

After consultation with the apostolic nuncio — the pope’s ambassador to the United States — Bishop Conley requested permission from Pope Francis for a temporary medical leave in order to address issues surrounding anxiety, depression and other issues. 

“My doctors have directed me to take a leave of absence for medical and psychological treatment, and to get some much-needed rest. After prayer, and seeking the counsel of my spiritual director, my brother bishops, and my family, I have accepted the medical necessity of a temporary leave of absence,” Bishop Conley wrote in a December 13, 2019, letter to Catholics in the Lincoln Diocese. 

He said he wanted to share information about his health “because I hope, in some small way, to help lift the stigma of mental health issues.“

Conley said that for months, he tried to work through his mental health and medical  issues on his own through spiritual direction, counseling, and prayer. 

“It has been difficult to accept that my mental health problems are real health problems, and not just a defect of my character, especially during a year of difficulty for our diocese,“ he said.

In an interview with Catholic News Agency earlier this month, Conley confided his initial fears that his mental illness would be seen as a sign of weakness. But once he made his announcement, he said, people reached out to him, expressing gratitude for his willingness to share about his experience.

The Mental Health Council encouraged other Catholic leaders to share their testimonies of mental illness and recovery.

“Through the awareness made possible by such testimonies as Bishop Conley’s, doors can open to ensure that anyone seeking help, including family and friends, will have easy access to information, referrals, and good sound advice,” the Council said.

Tags:
Mental Health
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
2
Philip Kosloski
When did Christians start praying the Hail Mary?
3
Philip Kosloski
What are the corporal works of mercy?
4
PHILIP RIVERS
Cerith Gardiner
Quarterback Philip Rivers' retirement announcement reflects his s...
5
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
6
CONSOLE
Philip Kosloski
What are the spiritual works of mercy?
7
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
The 4 Ways to read Scripture every Catholic should know
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.