Phoenix bishop describes family history, outlines new mental health services.


Phoenix (3TV/CBS 5) — Amid rising suicide rates and rising depression, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix is ​​creating mental health services. It is probably the first time a diocese has done this.

Bishop John Dolan said his brother had suffered from mental health problems for a long time. He lost a brother and a sister to suicide. So he believes there is a need out there and wants to help. “In the ’70s, nobody talked about suicide,” Bishop Dolan said.

He explained that he was in the 8th grade when his older brother Tom took his own life. “You just bury him; you just go with him,” he said.

Then years later, while he was in seminary, his sister Thérèse died of a coma. When her husband learned of her death, he committed suicide. “The church was there in the beginning. He didn’t give — he didn’t have a strategic program to continue to protect our interests.” Bishop Dolan said.

He wants to change that. However, he admits that it took him a long time, a lot of reflection, research and advice to get everything aligned.

While working in San Diego, he met other people with similar problems. That’s why mental health services at the Diocese of Phoenix began. “We’re not here to diagnose or prescribe or even treat. We are here to accompany and let people know they are loved. So the whole process is about love and not about medicine,” he explained.

As a body, priests and deacons receive additional training. In addition, at least 15 churches in the diocese offer support groups.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix held a memorial service for those who died by suicide earlier this month. They plan to read over a hundred to a thousand names. “They don’t forget just because they show the elements of the problem,” Bishop Dolan said.

By sharing his story, he hopes, he can inspire others. “Hey, I can now let people know that a bishop, a Catholic bishop, has a family disorder,” he said.

The diocese plans to hold a ribbon cutting for the new office in December. It is expected to open in January.


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