St. Dymphna, Intercessor for People with Mental Illness

Close to one in five adults in the United States struggles with mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That’s a huge number of people in one country alone who live with anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, OCD, bipolar disorder—to name just a few.

Chances are that you or someone you love is dealing with a mental illness. Saint Dymphna, the patron saint of mental illness, is an excellent intercessor for those in need of healing and help.

DymphnaYou might be surprised to learn that St. Dymphna did not have a mental illness herself. How, you might ask, did a woman who did not have mental illness become the patron saint for those who do? During her lifetime, she accompanied a family member and others who struggled with severe mental illnesses.

Dymphna’s father sank into a deep depression after the death of his wife. “His grieving was very deep and he couldn’t come out of it,” explained Dr. Peter Kleponis, licensed professional counselor. “They actually thought he should marry somebody that looked like his wife. They searched all over and couldn’t find anybody and then somebody had the bright idea that he should marry his daughter.”

Due to his deteriorated mental state, he agreed to the arrangement and Dymphna had to escape to Belgium with the help of a priest. Some say that while there, she used some of her father’s money to care for the sick. When her father tracked her down, he travelled there to bring her back to Ireland to marry him. She refused, and her father became so enraged that he beheaded her with his sword at the young age of 15.

Patron of Mental Illness

“You can tell that during the time that she lived with her father, she understood what it meant to be with somebody that really struggled with mental illness and she was able to walk side-by-side with him,” said Dr. Kleponis.

He recommends that those dealing with mental illness call upon her intercession. “She’s a saint that can walk with you through that, giving you the strength to persevere day by day as you go through your treatment, trying to find some type of relief.”

Prayer to St. Dymphna

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.

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…

Saint Dymphna, virgin and martyr, pray for us!

If you are struggling with mental illness, reach out to a medical professional for help. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.