Adventists in the Southern Asia-Pacific raise attention to mental health care
The Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) through the Health Ministries department hosted its first ever Mental Health Summit focusing on empowering medical missionaries and practitioners with knowledge on mental health.
More than 400 delegates coming from the three Philippine unions participated in the said summit on February 21-23 at the newly established Manila Adventist College (MAC), in Pasay City, Philippines. The summit proceeded with a vision to know more about mental health and to see if this can be an avenue for bringing the Adventist health message to the world.
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. More than 264 million of the world's population are facing depression.
"The future is bright for the Adventist Mental Health Care system in the Philippines. This gathering of medical practitioners and bible workers opens opportunities for integration to deliver effective ways and strategies that address numerous issues in mental health here in the Philippines," said Southern Asia-Pacific Division health director, Dr. Lalaine Alfanoso.
Organizers aim to establish more mental health care groups assigned in Adventist hospitals to assist in patients having signs of mental health issues. This leads to a bigger goal of having an Adventist facility dedicated to addressing anxiety disorders in the Philippines
For years, the SSD health department has eagerly looked forward to organizing this meeting, seeing the enormous possibility of ministry that mental health care can open for the church. According to the World Health Organization's(WHO) statistical data, it shows that depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide. In a recent study, it shows that women are more susceptible to depression compared to men.
This new information opens the church to a realization that no individual is exempt from depression, and that everyone needs attention and care that will bring hope, and lead to recovery.
The Mental Health Summit investigated the inseparable relationship between the mind, the body, and the spirit, with the hallmark Adventist view of education: restoring the image of God in man.
Topics on mental health and the church’s openness towards these sensitive issues were discussed.
Dr. Peter Landless, Adventist world church health director, and Dr. Torben Bergland, associate health director attended the summit.
“The Seventh-day Adventist church has been entrusted with a grace-filled, evidence-based, Christ-centered, biblical, spirit of prophecy-consonant message on holistic health worth living for,” Dr. Landless said.
“Our advantage is not only based on nutrition, exercise, sleep, but it is also a complete package which includes our spirituality,” Landless added.
In his message, Dr. Landless reminded the participants about the hope that Jesus Christ portrayed in every circumstance. Landless encouraged every Adventist to bring hope to the hopeless. There are moments when we need to break our silence and be proactive in sharing the love of God to others specially to those who are broken, Landless concluded.
Dr. Torben Bergland in his lectures stressed to the participants the importance of having a holistic approach to mental health, realizing the strong connection between the body, the mind, and the spirit.
“We have hope for the future... It’s about having a relationship with Christ. It’s about having a relationship with the church and its family where they can feel accepted and embraced as they are,” Dr. Bergland said.
“We have a responsibility as a church community to embody and mirror God’s love for people. God is infinitely compassionate. He spent his time seeking, healing, meeting people who needed help, who needed comfort. That’s where God spent most his time while here on Earth,” Bergland added.
Organizers and delegates consider the first Mental Health Summit in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division a success, and they look forward to another meeting next year to see how much the division has grown in this field, and to consider improvements in its methods in helping people with mental health challenges.
Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Growing out of scriptures that paint a compelling portrait of God, you are invited to explore, experience and know the One who desires to make us whole.