Monday, July 10, 2006

Christian Students Mental Health

Rachel Matson has put this resource together, I'm sure it can be very helpful for all of us who are involved in student ministry:

Students are particularly vulnerable, as they are exposed to many stressors. Living away from home, being lonely, not being able to get a good night’s sleep (particularly in halls!!), having new financial responsibilities, probably having an unhealthy diet (pasta and baked beans hardly supply all we need!), and the pressures of study, etc.

Add these to the usual stresses we all face in life, and it’s little wonder that in your work you will meet many students struggling with mental health problems. This site is intended to equip you to help those students, and to know where your limits lie.


  1. Glad to see there's something specific out there, Dave. It's a good start and could do with some developing.

    In addition, I'd guess that in every institution there will be Christians active in the student support services of their University. I know of several key people in my university's mental health advice and couselling services who are Christians, not to mention Christians active in ancilliary support services (finance, housing etc.).

    At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, all Christian workers with students ought at some time in their work to meet up with their institution's chaplain who, in most cases, will not only have their finger on the pulse of where Christians are at work in their institutions, but usually be involved in the provision of mental health care themselves and can, at the very least, help in referring the student to a suitable helper.

    One of the most depressing converstions with a leader of one Christian group I once met, involved me asking him where he would refer a fellow Christian with mental health issues. His answer was, sadly, not the counselling department or another specialist agency, but the local church. In most cases churches really aren't cut out for this kind of support (of course, churches can support and assist).

    Instead it was tragic that the guy couldn't see that there might be professional Christians who had dedicated their lives to mental health working in his own university right under his nose. It seemed to me symptomatic of a Christian ghetto mentality...

  2. I think I'd want a combination of pro's and church - and never without the support of someone in the local church.

    It strikes me that there are problems in counselling a Christian if support given isn't framed in a fully-orbed biblical world view including the value of life in God's image, the widereaching impact of sin in us and our relationships with others and on the human body, mind, heart, the reality of grace and forgiveness, the work of the Holy Spirit today, the hope of eternal new creation, restoration, justice, relief of pain etc...

    The absence of those things in the life of a non-Christian go *some* way to explaining what might be wrong in their immediate situation.

    We spent a morning at our staff conference this year being given some helpful stuff on mental health from a medic who has done some work with the Christian Medical Fellowship. This is a pressing issue in the student world and beyond.

  3. Ah, but that person from the local church may also be the professional...
    I have also had contact with students with mental issues this year and in the past, and I also have some experience of my own.
    It has long been a concern of mine that there is a continued non-acceptance of what mental illness is, and how it works, within certain sections of the church.
    "You shouldn't be depressed - you can't have a proper grasp of grace if you are"... and that's not going to help.

    Sorry, I'll get off my hobby-horse now. (maybe I'll blog on this, but probably not, as it'll become a rant likely as not).

  4. Sorry, I did mean to say that that website looks good and is very encouraging. Thanks, Rachel!

  5. We have to open our eyes to see that depression is something that many Christians do experience.

    And there will be something in needing a revelation of God's grace to us as a help, but that doesn't necessarily take it away.

    I'm persuaded by Piper's thought on grace that sustains:

    not grace to bar what is not bliss,
    nor flight from all distress, but this,
    the grace that orders our trouble and pain
    and then in the darkness is there to sustain

    So, God wont necessarily take away our trouble, but will help us to live in it.

    God is more than capable of taking away all physical, mental, spiritual pain - and one day he will! - but in his sovereign purposes he very often doesnt do it yet... We imagine that the best thing is for the clouds to lift, but God knows better.

    Christian Medical Fellowship have done some good work on this area. And I'm curious about the work of the Christian Counselling & Education Foundation.