Mental Health IS Mission
As early career psychologists, we headed into mission/aid work 25 years ago.
This 1987 photo is from a special farewell party in Los Angeles with friends.
We have grown deeply and broadly and so has the member care field!
"The Christian mission requires that we meet basic human needs for education, food, water, medicine, justice, and peace. As is evident in the Apostle John’s assertion that Jesus was sent to “destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3: 8), our mission is to continue his earthly mission by undertaking the kind of organized research and enterprises that combat evil in all its forms—violence, injustice, poverty, environmental exploitation, drug trafficking, and disease… All of this is to the ultimate glory of our good and gracious Creator and Redeemer God." David Hesselgrave, describing the essence of Dr. Ralph Winter’s “kingdom mission.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (Volume 46, April 2010; p. 196).
To “meet basic human needs” and to “combat evil in all its forms” also includes combating the causes and results of human suffering, such as mental ill-health and disease. In this regard, connecting and contributing to the global health domain (GH) is an important opportunity for the member care field even as it has been for parts of the mission/aid sector. Global mental health (GMH) is particularly relevant, as we have seen in these entries.
Mental health (MH) fits solidly into the scope of “mission.”It is not just a means to a “greater” spiritual end.
It is not just a bi-product of mission.
It is a core part of mission.
MH is mission (mhM).
“The global burden of disease attributable to mental, neurological, and substance use disorders is expected to rise from 12.3% in 2000 to 14.7% in 2020 (1). This rise will be particularly sharp in developing countries. Research has documented the socioeconomic determinants of many disorders, the profound impact on the lives of those affected and their families, and the lack of appropriate care in developing countries. The enormous gap between mental health needs and the services in developing countries has been documented in international reports, culminating in the World Health Report 2001 (2). This evidence has increased the profile of international mental health, but action still remains limited. With every new public health challenge, mental health is once more relegated to the background. We argue that moral arguments are just as important as evidence to make the case for mental health intervention. At the center of these moral arguments is the need to reclaim the place of mental health at the heart of international public health.” (Beyond Evidence: The Moral Case for International Mental Health; Patel, Saraceno, Kleinman, American Journal of Psychiatry, 138:8, August 2006, pp. 1312-1315).
Some Basic Applications
1. Further develop MH awareness/skills for:**mission/aid workers
**member care workers
**health care workers
**the people and communities that are the focus of mission/aid and health care workers
(including vulnerable populations: the poor, those with minimal access to health resources, settings of conflict/calamity)
Some resources:**Mental Health First Aid (12 hour course)
(Links for Training in 15 Countries)
**Psychological First Aid: A Guide for Field Workers
(World Health Organisation, World Vision International, War Trauma Foundation)
**Community-Based Psychosocial Support: A Training Kit
(International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies)
**Integrating Mental Health into Primary Care: A Global Perspective
(World Health Organisation and World Organisation of Family Doctors)
2. Encourage mental health professionals and students to find relevant ways to connect and contribute to global MH.
Some resources:**A Resource Map for Connecting and Contributing (short article: July 2011)
**Finding Your Niches and Networks (short article: March 2012)
**A Resource Primer for Exploring the Domain (journal article: July 2012)
**GMH-Map website: A global map for a global movement
Finally, and for some stats and real-life examples: Watch the short overview video about global mental health from the World Health Organisation’s “Mental Health Gap Action Programme.”
Reflection and Discussion**Christian mission keeps the person and message of Christ central. Respond to this assertion in terms of the MH perspectives shared in this entry.
**How could people in your settings including yourself further develop MH awareness and skills? How feasible is this?