Parents will often turn to mental health experts and professionals when raising children who have been diagnosed with mental or behavioral disorders. While this is certainly a good idea, parents might also want to consider the spiritual side of mental health in addition to the mental, physical, and emotional aspects.
Turning to Scripture can teach parents about creating loving, mindful, and responsible environments that are conducive to the mental and emotional health of their children. Sometimes, being more responsible with what is going on in the world around our children can help heal what is going on inside their hearts and minds.
How Shepherds Hill Academy Illustrates the Spiritual Side of Mental Health
We see kids coming to Shepherds Hill Academy with a lot of different diagnoses—not the least of which are depression and bipolar disorder. There are certainly many others as well, and it can make one wonder: Why does there seem to be such an epidemic with today’s teens—particularly in the area of depression and bipolar disorder?
Shepherds Hill Academy is world-renown for helping troubled teens—and their entire families—with myriad diagnoses. Depression and bipolar disorder are certainly two that we deal with all the time. Of course, I’m a bit suspicious about a lot of these diagnoses, myself—particularly depression and bipolar—because, as you may know, 70% of the kids who come to SHA on prescription meds and diagnosed with disorders like these will graduate medication-free after a year. This is not because we are against medications or trying to maintain an impressive track record. This is because our kids have come to a place in their lives where they understand that they can actually control so much of their own mental health simply by controlling what they allow themselves to be exposed to, engaged in, obsessed with, and stimulated by. They learn that they have some choice in how they respond to the tribulations of life.
We believe that the key to mental and emotional health is first a spiritual thing. Unfortunately, today’s kids are no longer growing up in a culture that fosters a climate for spiritual health—at least not “Holy Spiritual” health. It does, however, foster a climate for self-indulgence and literally all of the seven deadly sins. And these things are definitely killing us! We are a spiritual culture alright, but the spirits competing with the Holy Spirit have drastically increased in recent times and have now done a pretty good job of commandeering the largest stages and the loudest microphones in our culture. Today’s mental health field occupies both. I mean, just look at all the pharmaceutical commercials on TV today. When doctors or therapists with a bunch of letters behind their names say Junior has this or that “disorder” and needs this or that medication for a quick and easy fix, who are we but mere insignificant and uneducated parental peons to question it?
We have to keep in mind that education and intellect don’t always require wisdom. The opposite of a wise man is a fool. But even fools can be highly educated. There’s no fool like the educated fool. But, in the eyes of many so-called commoners, if someone has those letters behind their name, well, credentials are kind of on par with infallibility. We know that this certainly isn’t the case. More and more secular doctors and therapists are having to come to grips with the reality that there are some major faux pas in today’s conventional mental health field, but at SHA we have a proving ground for the veracity of what we’re discussing and teaching here on License to Parent every day. The highly respected and renowned guests we bring on this program are also testimonies to what we’re seeing here at SHA in real time as well.
The crazy thing is that this stuff is really nothing new—in fact, it’s quite old. It’s just been forgotten, discredited, misunderstood, slandered, marginalized, and just flat disregard and/or disobeyed in recent decades here in America and other places around the world. Our faith for raising kids and living life is going to be in something; it will be in ourselves, our parents, our extended family, our culture, Dr. Spock, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew, Dr. Oz, Dr. Oprah, or God and His Word—no matter what, we’re going to put our faith in something. Here at SHA, and on the License to Parent broadcast, our faith is in the Wonderful Counselor—otherwise known as the Great Physician. We have a track record that gives undeniable evidence that this mental health professional is spot on! But, of course, we also believe that all health begins with spiritual health. Get that right, and mental, emotional, relational, social, and even physical health will very often take care of themselves.
Picture provided by: Christoph Schütz