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St. James Mental Health and Wellness Ministry

Mission Statement
The Mental Health & Wellness Ministry of St. James Cathedral serves those who experience mental health challenges or other life occurrences which disrupt mental and spiritual wellness. We acknowledge that people who live with mental illness, like any other illness, are deserving of love, compassion, respect and inclusion. We strive to demonstrate these core principles through companionship, education, support and prayer.
The ministry began in 2011 and was driven by the needs of our community and inspired by the philosophical beliefs and practices of Rev. Craig Rennebohm, who founded the Mental Health Chaplaincy in Seattle. The work of the ministry is rooted in Rennebohm’s model of a companioning presence: coming side-by-side with those who are struggling.

The Mental Health & Wellness Ministry is supported by parish funds and grants from the Ferry Foundation, Order of Malta and by the generosity of other donors.

Mental Health and Wellness Director
My name is Anisa Ralls and I have been the Director of the MHWM since 2023.  I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and have many years of experience working with people with mental health and substance abuse struggles in a counseling setting as well as in a crisis setting.  Along with a group of dedicated volunteers, I work in various ways to provide support, information, education and resources to help improve the quality of the lives of those living with mental illness and support the loved ones who care for them. Responding to requests for prayer is another very important part of our ministry.
Please contact me for support and resources:
Anisa Ralls, MA LMHC (she/her)
Director of Mental Health and Wellness Ministry
St. James Cathedral


The Mental Health Ministry will aid in creating environments where persons with mental illness feel welcomed and supported within our Faith Community.
The Church and this Ministry can be a formal entry point and linkage to established systems of Mental Health Care.

The Mental Health Ministry will do everything possible to meet the basic needs of people with mental illness and their families.

In touching the lives in this way, we come closest to imitating Jesus’ own example, which should be always before our eyes. (Lk 4:17-19, 21)

The Mental Health & Wellness Ministry will create a community supporting growth and wholeness and circles of care surrounding those in need.

We can work to assure that no one is alone on this journey through healing and recovery.


  • MONTHLY MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT GROUP – 3rd Friday of the month 10-11:30am
  • NAMI FAMILY SUPPORT GROUP-NAMI Family support group meets online the 1st Saturday of the month and in person on the 3rd Saturday of the month at St James Cathedral 1:30-3:00pm. Click here to register for a 1st Saturday meeting. No registration required for 3rd Saturday meetings.
  • SENIOR HOSPITALITY GROUPS – Monthly social and support gatherings at Cabrini Senior Housing and Chancery Apartments
  • DINNER, BREAKFAST, AND COFFEE HOUR COMPANION MINISTRY – ‘Ministry of Presence’ is provided to weekday and Sunday breakfast guests of The Cathedral Kitchen and Sunday Coffee Hour Guests
  • EMMAUS COMPANION MINISTRY – ‘Ministry of Presence’ offered during masses
  • SUPPORT VISITS – MHWM Director and/or volunteers are able to visit with you in office, at home, in hospital or by phone
  • PRAYER PARTNERS- We are a group of volunteers devoted to praying for those living with mental illness–either in themselves, a loved one, or someone they care for 
  • GRIEF SUPPORT GROUP-8-week sessions held 3x year
  • MENTAL HEALTH EDUCATION TRAININGS AND WORKSHOPS-Trainings and workshops on various mental health and wellness topics throughout the year for parishioners, staff, and volunteers
  • ANNUAL MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS FAIR-Informational fair held on the 1st week of October in celebration of Mental Illness Awareness Week
  • MONTHLY FOOT CARE CLINIC-offered by Public Health Nurses on the last Wednesday of the month 1-4pm


If you have experience or a particular interest in the field of mental health and are interested in becoming a Mental Health Ministry Volunteer for any of these programs, complete the Volunteer Interest form and contact Anisa Ralls, Director of the Mental Health and Wellness Ministry at aralls@stjames-cathedral.org or 206-382-4269. 


A mental illness is a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling, behavior or mood. These conditions deeply impact day-to-day living and may also affect the ability to relate to others. If you have — or think you might have — a mental illness, the first thing you must know is that you are not alone. Mental health conditions are far more common than you think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are scared to, talk about them. However:

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
1 in 20
 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
1 in 6
 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
 of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24

A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too. None of this means that you’re broken or that you, or your family, did something “wrong.” Mental illness is no one’s fault and for many people, recovery — including meaningful roles in social life, school and work — is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process. For more information click here.

Click here to download a list of Mental Health Resources
Click here to download a list of local Community Resources


  • Call 911 for police assistance if the situation is life threatening or if it looks like someone may get hurt. If there is no immediate physical danger, call the Crisis Clinic at 206-461-3222 or 1-866-427-4747 or 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  You can text 24/7 for help to 741741.
  • Navigating a Mental Health Crisis (PDF)

Resources for Faith Communities

  • National Catholic Partnership on Disability Dedicated to ensuring meaningful participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of the life of the church and society. https://ncpd.org/disability-ministry/mental-illness
  • FaithNet NAMI(National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) has been supporting persons afflicted with mental illness and their families in their search for wholeness. FaithNet helps to educate clergy and congregations about the nature of brain disorders, fosters an understanding of spirituality in the recovery process, and encourages faith communities to participate in care and advocacy. www.namifaithnet
  • Pathways to Promise is an interfaith technical assistance and resource center that offers liturgical and educational materials, program models, and networking information to promote a caring ministry to people with mental illness and their families. www.pathways2promise.org/
  • Mental Health Ministries, based in Southern California, has a national reach in its mission of producing high-quality resources to reduce the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities. https://www.pathways2promise.org/mental-health-ministries                                                       
  • The Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, a national organization working to bring Mental Health Ministry to every Catholic Parish. https://catholicmhm.org/
  • Archdiocese of Seattle Mental Health Ministry, following Jesus Christ as our teacher, the Mental Health Ministry gathers our wisdom and resources, reaching out to parishes and schools, to create welcoming communities of compassion, support and education to reduce the stigma of mental illness. https://archseattle.org/ministries/outreach-ministries/mental-health-ministry/

PRAYER PARTNERSDon’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil 4:6).

We are a branch of the Mental Health Ministry devoted to praying for those living with mental illness – either in themselves, a loved one, or someone they care for. We help support the Mental Health Ministry by responding to special requests and needs that sometimes can only be answered with prayers. We intercede for them in the name of Jesus, confident that God will grant them the healing and grace they need.  If you would like to request prayers for yourself, a loved one, or someone you care for, please click here.

What does the Church have to say about mental illness?
"Whoever suffers from mental illness 'always' bears God's image and likeness in himself, as does every human being In addition, he 'always' has the inalienable right not only to be considered as an image of God and therefore as a person, but also to be treated as such." “In his infinite love, God is always close to those who are suffering. Depressive illness can be a way to discover other aspects of oneself and new forms of encounter with God. Christ listens to the cry of those whose boat is rocked by the storm (cf. Mk 4: 35-41). He is present beside them to help them in the crossing and guide them to the harbour of rediscovered peace.” Pope John Paul II
It is necessary to take action to "fully overcome the stigma that mental illness is often tainted with".  He said it is necessary to replace the "mentally of discarding, according to which greater care and attention is given to those who deliver productive benefits to society", with a "culture of community". Pope Francis
For more resources and information:

Hope and Healing:  A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of California
A Prayer for Mental Health
(Mental Health Awareness month is May; Mental Illness Awareness week 1st week of October)

God of love, we celebrate our faith and your encouragement for acceptance, wholeness, and inclusion of all your people. We give thanks for this church and the ways we seek to live out Jesus’ commandment to love You, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. During this Mental Health Awareness month (or Mental Illness Awareness week), we pray for all people who live with mental illness, particularly those who go untreated due to inability to access care.

We particularly pray for an end to the stigma of mental challenges and especially for those who do not realize they live with a mental illness that can be treated.  We pray for families torn apart by mental health diseases and addictions, and for families that hold-on-to one another during difficult times of illness. We pray for those who have lost a loved one to suicide, and those who will take their own lives on this very day.

We pray for children, teens, and young adults learning how to live with newly diagnosed brain diseases. We pray for people burdened by labels and stereotypes, and those who are victims of bullying and discrimination because of their differences. Help our society to be more compassionate of differently-abled people.

We pray for mental health caregivers, for scientific researchers, and for professionals who seek to bring compassion, treatment and healing to those who suffer from brain disorders.

We give thanks for the many gifts that people who live with brain disorders bring into the world and celebrate the creative genius of artists, scientists, authors, athletes, scholars, business leaders, actors, musicians, inventors, and presidents who live with mental illness. We applaud those who shine light on their illness so others may feel less stigmatized. Almighty and awesome God, as the mysteries of the human brain continue to unfold, we remain in awe of the intricate ways in which we are created in your image.

We ask for the intercession of saints who have gone before us who themselves have experienced mental health struggles: Saints Dymphna (patron of those with mental illness, incest victims and those whose parents died), Benedict Joseph Labre (patron of those with illnesses of the human mind), Christina the Astonishing (patroness of those with severe mental illness), Venerable Matt Talbot (patron of those with addictions and alcoholism).

We implore the kind and loving intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes, the patroness of healing.
May we always strive to be reflections of your love in this world. Amen. 
St. Dymphna is Patroness of those who suffer with mental and nervous disorders

St. Dymphna has become increasingly popular in recent years as someone to turn to when experiencing worry, fear, and anxiety.  Saint Dymphna can be invoked for help with a range of mental health issues, from daily stress to the more serious disorders.

Her story:  She was born in the 7th century to a royal family in Ireland.  Her mother was a devout Catholic, but her father Damon was not religious.  The upbringing and care from her mother instilled a deep faith in Dymphna.  However, her mother died when Dymphna was around 14 years old.  In his grief, Damon suffered from severe mental illness to the point of near insanity.  He decided to marry Dymphna to replace his wife, but the girl fled to Geel, Belgium with two family servants and a priest, Saint Gerebernus.  Unfortunately, Damon tracked down his daughter.  After killing the priest, the soldiers were ordered to cut off Dymphna’s head if she refused to marry her father. 

Remaining true to her faith, the teenager refused to comply.  Damon’s response was to kill his daughter by his own hand.  Dymphna is the patron saint of mental illness, as well as therapists, incest victims, and the loss of parents. 

Dymphna was buried in Geel.  When her body was discovered in the 13th century, cures and miracles were being attributed to her, especially for people with epilepsy and people with mental illness.  But the most outstanding miracle is one that began centuries ago and still continues to this day.  In the 13th century, an institution was built in Geel where people with mental illness are admitted for a short time.  Following the initial treatment, these patients are then placed with families in the village with whom they live and work side by side.  The patients receive treatment without formality and gain greatly by the normal lifestyle offered to them by the villagers.  The villagers see them as a part of their lives and have for centuries.  In the context of institutionalization, deinstitutionalization, and reinstitutionalization (in prisons) in our country, this truly is miraculous.  All of this is attributed to a simple young princess who lost her life in defense of doing the right thing.  St. Dymphna is a legend and a model and has left a legacy for care and treatment of people with mental illness that defies the “wisdom” and sophistication of our own time.

Click here for a story about Geel:  https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/07/01/484083305/for-centuries-a-small-town-has-embraced-strangers-with-mental-illness
Prayer to St. Dymphna (Feast Day:  May 15)
Good St. Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body.  I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need (mention it).  St. Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request.  (Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be).
Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us!

Prayer for Inclusion
Creator God, we are your people.
We look to the future with optimism and with faith in you,
As we pursue our call to provide justice and fullness of life
For all people with mental illness.
We pray that every man, woman and child
May develop their potential and meet you
In themselves and in one another.
May we enjoy a totally welcoming community,
With you as our center, joined hand in hand with our sisters and brothers.
We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Based on the Pastoral Statement of US Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities –
NCPD Council (National Catholic Partnership on Disability)


Return to St. James Cathedral Parish Website

804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303