Anointing of the Sick for mental illness


Earlier this week I wrote a letter to my priest explaining my mental health issues - bipolar, OCD, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts. I asked him if I could receive the anointing of the sick. He phoned me and said yes and set up an appointment. I went yesterday. He gave me some spiritual guidance then I made a confession, and then received the sacrament. I just want to encourage anyone out there who has the same issues to consider asking for this sacrament. It gives me such a sense of peace knowing that I have received it. I know that if it is God’s will and for the betterment of my soul He will heal me and if not then my sufferings are joined to the sufferings of Christ. May God send peace to everyone with torments of the mind. In Jesus’ name. Amen. :heart:


Good advice.I have a loved one who suffers greatly from mental health issues.I am trying to encourage her to do as you suggest.At this Time ,while she is somewhat open,she is also scared and resistant to make this step.God Bless with continued healing.


May you experience continued peace.


As someone who has both had mental illnesses and worked with the mentally ill, I cannot stress how beneficial our faith is. Often I wonder how overlooked the teachings of the Church and scriptures are when it comes to dealing with thoughts and mental disorders.

In my case, I encountered a complete healing of my Bipolar and accompanying issues. I have been able to remove myself completely from medication (It took time to lower and eventually wean myself off of it) with my doctor’s permission. While working with others, several have received the same healing and others have been able to drastically reduce their dependence on medicine. Some of the actions performed were: daily prayer, acts of charity, regular reception of the sacraments, and following the desert monastics and Church teachings on dealing with thoughts and feelings.

This drastically has influenced my outlook on medicine as well as my chosen career path (psychiatry). Not only have I seen true healing come out of those who seek Jesus’s help, I have seen the real affects of the evil-one as well. While I initially started out skeptical, I came across some people who didn’t quite fit the mold on mental illnesses and proved to be on the path to possession even though I didn’t believe in that at the time (they were hearing voices, seeing “shadows”, engaging in dark arts). On a whim I decided to pray with one, even though at the time I was at best a practical atheist rarely going to church. Not only did they calm down briefly the voices subsided and the “shadows” fled. I started to investigate this more with these people and began to determine a religious aversion. For example, while looking for answers (talking to priests, counselors, doctors, looking in books at medical libraries, books on exorcisms) a priest I grew up with recommended adding excised salt to food. Sure enough, the family reported they requested something else the moment the salt was added. The person would get tired, get headaches, nauseous, at one point even threw up during a rosary. They had body pains that would move (within seconds) all over their body especially if touched by a blessed artifact. It took a long time for me (a rational skeptic who chose science to explain his life instead of theology) to fully test, retest, placebo, blind, and double blind test. I had to be certain this person from a fallen Catholic home that never received any religious instruction wasn’t just faking it for attention. Only to finally reach the conclusion that I didn’t learn the answers from medical texts but rather scriptures and Church teachings.

I have come to the conclusion that the field of mental illness is far more complex than my schooling has prepared me for, so I gave up on further pursuits of psychiatry and wish to become a Catholic Psychologist. Currently experience has led to the belief that there are many possible causes of illnesses ranging from strictly biological/psychological to just spiritual. However I have reached a conclusion that there is a wide degree of overlap. For example I will give a couple people I worked with who had typical schizophrenic symptoms. One person after deliverance prayers who heard voices no longer hears the “evil” voices but still retains the “benign” voices. While another person after one deliverance prayer no longer hears any of their five voices that followed them since early childhood.

I apologize for the long post but I wanted to share my own experience with the subject. In addition, I wanted to add that I recall reading a book published by a psychologist in the 1960’s who noted that when Christ healed the sick he separated them into two groups: the sick and demonically afflicted. Also, Jesus never failed heal anyone who came to him, although a difficult affliction took time and prayer.


I was scared, too! I was worried that the priest would feel I wasn’t sick enough or tell me that the Anointing of the Sick was only for physical illnesses. But, after thinking about it for a long time I thought well, all he can do is say no. And if he does then I’ll accept that.

If she is embarrassed like I was, I suggest encouraging her to write it all down in a letter to the priest. That’s what I did and I found it a lot easier to explain than if I were in person. At least the letter broke the ice and gave him and made it not so awkward when I met with him. He was prepared with questions based on what I had said in my letter and it was quite productive. It can be hard to start at square one and tell someone your psychiatric history face to face.

I offer up the prayer of St. Michael on behalf of your loved one, because mental illness is a battle. :heart:

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Father God please make it so that Jeanne S’s loved one runs to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thank you for your post, I found it so encouraging. I hope that you are able to become a Catholic psychologist. There is unfortunately such a need!! You could help many people. It sounds like you already have, thank you Lord.

Your post increases my hope. Thank God for hope.

And yes, I do believe it takes time and prayer. I used to believe that for a healing to take place it would have to be instantaneous and it would be like boom, I’d feel totally different. But now I realize healing can be a process, too. Like you said, there are things we can do. I am praying more, examining my conscience more often, going to Mass & receiving the Eucharist weekly, reading St. Therese’s book, doing a Novena to St. Michael, etc. May God’s mercy be poured out on us all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Who can and cannot receive the Anointing of the Sick (scroll down):

While the Sacrament is not given to everyone note too this regarding when there is doubt:

Canon 1005
This sacrament is to be administered when there is a doubt whether the sick person has attained the use of reason, whether the person is dangerously ill, or whether the person is dead.


Thank you for the info. What is unclear to me in this is when to receive the sacrament when a person has a chronic illness such as diabetes and forms of arthritis. Ultimately they can be life threatening. Our parish offers the sacrament monthly after the first Friday Mass. Can people with chronic illness go monthly? What about the aged who may be doing fine today but can go downhill at any moment?


Read the full text there again I think some things are addressed there regarding suchand also read the Catechism

The main key is: "begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age"

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine particular cases…

So as I noted there is that ‘doubt’ clause when the Priest is “in doubt” as to if the person ought to receive this sacrament at a particular time.

I am sure there are loads of commentary on the question. Some things will have to be a judgment call on the part of the Priest.


I believed myself to be dangerously ill because the rate of suicide with people with my illnesses are so high. My depressions are deep, dark places that are not rational. I have had suicidal ideation in the past. My father also had mental health issues and shot himself. He is missed his heart by a quarter of an inch but still has major health complications today as a result. I never want to end up like that.

Here are some facts I grabbed off of wikipedia’s bipolar disorder page under the subheading “Mortality”:
Bipolar disorder can cause suicidal ideation that leads to suicidal attempts. One out of three people with bipolar disorder report past attempts of suicide or complete it, and the annual average suicide rate is 0.4%, which is 10 to 20 times that of the general population.

If you have questions or doubts as to if you are eligible please reach out to your priest and find out. :heart:


I was providing general information on the reception of the Sacrament -not making a judgment regarding any particular case.


On a personal note:

Stay close to Jesus the* Good Shepherd *–he loves you --in him is true life even in the midst of any darkness we walk through on the paths of this earth…


Yes, you are right, thank you. :heart: I apologize. I felt the need to defend myself. I’m sorry. I know we are all trying to help each other here. :heart:


The law is alive to serve the person, not the other way around.

There is some confusion to the origin of the Anointing of the Sick. It was part of a (commonly used) series of blessings to be performed on a sick person. One of eight if I remember correctly and it was the last one to be performed in order thus “Last Rites”. It was once a regularly performed practice (in an age in which medicine was sketchy at best) that slowly fell into disuse unless the person was dying (mainly due to the name “the Last Rights”). It was correctly changed back to “Anointing of the Sick” in the 1970’s. Today it is nice to see people using it again and I applaud you for seeking a priest out for this.

Honestly we should regularly anoint the sick and ask for God’s blessings and healing since that is the example Christ gave us. Jesus did not ask just for the gravely ill to be brought to him but welcomed and healed all who came to him.:amen:


People get prayed with and for, and even healed via those with such gifts or at places like Lourdes etc where God has chosen to particularly manifest such. And we receive healing via Confession and Eucharist (Jesus!) etc etc

In terms of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick - the Church determines when and who can receive this Sacrament and when and how. Just as with the other Sacraments (for example one cannot go to confession via the internet…). And yes you are right that the Church seeks out and loves and serves the sick etc. Thanks be to God that we have Priests who can come anoint at any hour of the night even.


To be fair you need to be mindful about an audience before posting something like that though. This person is already clearly suffering a lot of mental distresses and instead of hope or constructive criticism you essentially just slammed them with cannon law. I know that it was not your intention to hurt someone. However, as somebody who actively works with those who suffer mental illnesses that can (and was by them) taken the wrong way.

To me it read more like “how dare you heal the sick on the Sabbath, that is against the law”

Again, I know that was not you intention to hurt, but real people suffer and commit suicide while suffering under mental distresses especially bipolar. Which actually allows this to fall under the rules.

For my part I am glad they went thru a priest (who should obviously know what he is doing).

I am sorry if this post offends you but I am trying to ask for more sensitivity in the future for those who suffering mental distresses.

:thumbsup: God bless you and protect you


I intentionally did not direct my post to any particular person and intentionally sought simply to provide all the general information (and a general post) on who and when of the Sacrament in question.

It is a Sacramental Theology forum.

I am quite aware of the suffering. I have worked in the psychological field - including with those with all sorts of suffering and even had a friend with bi-polar disorder. For I studied psychology a good deal before I dropped it for more Theology and Philosophy in my Theology degree.

And really I was not critical towards any person nor did I comment on any particular case.
Rather I posted a general post which provided general information for the thousands of readers out there. AND I even emphasized the “doubt” canon… and later I underlined that it was a general post: (any needful apologies of course are offered - I could have more directly discussed things with the person who opened the thread but time is often limited for finding the right way to say things and it seemed general information would be good at least for all readers).

Yes certainly let us with truth and love be with all who suffer the various struggles.


The more I sit here and study psychology, I honestly admire that decision. I have to say there is an intrinsic beauty to the simplicity and humility of sound theology that is lacking in the more ego bloated field of psychology.

It is nice to see people who still set their priorities straight in life.

I am glad to have had a chance to meet (well at least through posting)


Speaking as somebody who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder type-II, an eating disorder-not otherwise specified, and borderline personality disorder:

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is meant for people in physical danger of death. While suicidal tendencies can be seen as that from a certain perspective, the Sacrament is really not meant for these type of situations. It would be better for someone in this instance to frequent the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.

Complaining of legalism when somebody is attempting to adhere to canon law is rather self-defeating. The current Code can be very loose in a lot of practical situations, in addition to already detailing what is valid and right in emergency or unclear situations. Usually it is the case that when somebody intentionally distorts or ignores canon law, it’s not because he has some complex justification that the Code cannot account for; it’s because he doesn’t understand why the Code is there in the first place.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit