Pope John Paul II explained today how to take care of depressed people and encouraged families "to integrate them into a community of faith and a life in which they feel loved, understood, supported, dignified, that is to love and to be loved."
"The spread of depression has become worrying. Human, psychological and spiritual fragility is manifested through the disease, which at least in part is induced by society," the Holy Father added at the Paul VI Hall, where he received participants of the 18th International Conference on Depression, organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.
The Pope warned that "it is important to be aware of the repercussions that the messages sent by the media - which exalt consumerism, the immediate gratification of one's every desire, the constant search for greater material well-being - have on people".
He stressed that "it is necessary to propose new ways so that every person may be able to improve their own personality, cultivating their spiritual life which is the foundation of a mature existence."
People who take care of the depressed, he added, "must help them to rediscover their self-esteem, confidence in their own capability, interest in the future, desire to live".
On the spiritual path, the Pope said, reading and meditating on the psalms is of great help, as well as praying the rosary and participating in the Eucharist, a "source of interior peace."
John Paul II emphasized that in the face of the phenomenon of depression the Church and society must "propose to people, especially young people, models and experiences that help them to grow on the human, psychological, moral and spiritual level".
"The absence of points of reference will only weaken their personalities, causing them to think all behavior is of the same value. In this sense, the role of the family, the school, youth movements, and parish association is very relevant," he said.
Finally, he highlighted "the role of public institutions in order to assure dignified conditions of life, especially for people who have been abandoned, the sick and the elderly. Equally necessary are policies for young people, policies which offer a reason for hope to the new generations, rescuing them from the feeling of emptiness or other dangers."