Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh Offers Virtual Mental Health Forum on COVID-Related Stress

May 11, 2021

Marion Ahlers, Director of Marketing and Communications
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Pittsburgh


Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh Offers Virtual Mental Health Forum
on COVID-Related Stress

Event is in response to increased numbers of mental health challenges


Pittsburgh -- During the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, Americans have reported rising levels of anxiety, depression and other psychological trauma and distress. To help families and individuals understand what is happening, respond and seek help, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh and its partners are sponsoring a free virtual mental health forum for people concerned about their own mental health and that of others. 

“Mental Health Awareness and Support Through Post-Pandemic Stress” will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, May 19, 8-10 a.m. EST, with a recording available later on the sponsors’ websites. People can register to participate in this free forum on Catholic Charities’ web site at

The recording will be available to view the next day.

Presentations and speakers will include:

  • “Trends in mental health issues facing adults during COVID-19,” Marissa Barr, Southwest Regional Director, therapist, for Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh
  • “Mental health issues facing children after COVID-19,” Susan Caban, Director of Education for the National Alliance on Mental Illness 
  • “Suicide-related issues facing adults and children,” Jesse Putkoski, Regional Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • “Information on grief and mental health support groups,” Jack Shaw, Program Coordinator for Lifeline of Listening Friends

Many mental health professionals believe that the personal losses, lockdowns and anxieties related to COVID-19 constitute a national crisis. They have especially been linked to mental health issues in young people, ranging from phobias to substance abuse to suicidal depression.

“The trends we’re seeing in our counseling programs indicate a significant increase in people struggling with emotional and mental health challenges,” said Marissa Barr of Catholic Charities. “For the well-being of our communities, we can’t ignore this challenge facing our region. The good news is that area programs, agencies and professionals are well-prepared to guide people to encouragement and health. This forum will be a positive way to highlight available resources.”

Jack Shaw, Program Coordinator with Listening Friends, agreed. “I have received many calls from people who are suffering with anxiety or depression as a result of Covid-19 and the isolation from lockdowns,” Shaw said.

“Many health experts remain concerned about another wave of the virus, which may well include increased suicides and substance abuse. This forum will help participants respond to the difficulties they already face and prepare for the unknowns ahead.”

The forum, which honors Mental Health Awareness Month in May, is sponsored by Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Lifeline of Listening Friends, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health First Aid U.S.A.

As a follow-up to this forum, Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh will celebrate a Mass in which those who have died from suicide will be remembered. Prayers will also be offered for their survivors.

This will be held at Sacred Heart Church of Saint Jude Parish in Shadyside on Sunday, May 23 at 7:45 p.m. All are welcome.

Representatives from the sponsoring organizations are available to the media to discuss the forum and pandemic-related mental health issues. Please contact Marion Ahlers, Director of Marketing and Communications at Catholic Charities, at 412-456-6693 or


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About Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities serves all, regardless of religious affiliation, at their times of great need. With offices in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties, Catholic Charities has been providing programs and services since 1910. Catholic Charities offers counseling, a Free Health Care Center for the uninsured and underinsured, senior centers and services (out of Lawrence County) homeless assistance, pregnancy and parenting support, and more. For more information about our programs and services, visit