May 10, 2024

Our Works of Charity / David Bethuram

A path to recovery: navigating mental health challenges with resiliency and hope

David Bethuram

At some point, one out of every four families will face the challenge of dealing with mental illness and its impact on both a cherished family member and the unity of the family itself.

The stigma associated with mental illness compels numerous individuals to conceal the true extent of their symptoms or those of their loved ones. This stigma stands as the primary obstacle preventing individuals from accessing the necessary and beneficial treatment.

May is Mental Health Month. Mental health improves the quality of our lives. When we are free of depression, anxiety, excessive stress and worry, addictions and other psychological problems, we are more able to live our lives to the fullest.

Peace of mind is a natural condition and is available to everyone. Mental health strengthens and supports our ability to have healthy relationships, make good choices, maintain physical health and well-being, manage the natural ups and downs of life, and discover and grow toward our potential.

According to the Mental Health Association, Indiana ranks 43rd in the nation in terms of high prevalence of mental illness and low access to care for both adults and youths.

At Catholic Charities, we witness firsthand how poverty can exacerbate mental health issues, acting as both a cause and a consequence of poor mental well-being. (Related: May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Catholic Charities and local Catholic counselors can help)

Mental health is deeply influenced by the diverse factors, including inequalities within individuals’ social, economic and physical surroundings. This reality necessitates active engagement from Catholic Charities staff in supporting the mental health and overall well-being of impoverished individuals, while also striving to prevent mental health challenges from leading to poverty. It’s a complex endeavor, but one that yields rewarding outcomes.

Recovery from mental illness is a journey many embark on and successfully complete. It entails reclaiming a satisfying and purposeful life within a community, despite the persistent challenges of grappling with mental health issues. I advocate for a structured approach comprising six stages.

The initial phase involves recognizing the need for support. Admitting you require assistance in managing your mental health can be challenging, so this stage of recovery focuses on acknowledging the desire for change and learning to embrace support.

Next is the educational phase. This stage emphasizes gaining insight into your situation and involves collaborating with a professional to better comprehend your specific challenges.

The third stage is taking action. Progressing through this phase involves implementing the tools acquired in the previous stage and actively working toward the desired changes in your life.

Following this is the establishment of a solid foundation. This stage aids in strengthening your coping skills, paving the way for a happier and more fulfilling life.

Commitment to the recovery process is crucial and constitutes the fifth stage. Recovery isn’t as simple as flicking a switch; rather, it involves recognizing the impact of having the right tools and treatment options. Lastly, the spiritual stage is pivotal. Belief, prayer and a supportive faith community help individuals understand that the love and grace of God are essential and readily available.

Overall, embracing these stages and pillars of recovery can pave the way for individuals to navigate their mental health journey with resilience and hope.

(David Bethuram is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. You can contact him at †

Related article: Meeting mental health needs is part of the mission of ‘what Catholic Charities does’ to offer people hope

Local site Links: