Friday, November 5, 2010

Mental Health and Religion

Are we happy because of our faith? What is the meaning of faith in our lives? Do we believe we have a happier and fuller understanding of life when God enters?  These are the questions posed by a columnist in our Incheon Weekly. It's his belief that most therapists, from their many years of experience with those who come to them for help, are convinced that for optimal health God must be part of any successful treatment.
The aim of treatment for psychological problems is to achieve mental health: peace, inner freedom, self-development and growth. This can appear to be something spontaneous. Often a person, after consultation with a therapist,, will feel his problem has disappeared and resumes a normal life but another problem often arises that brings him back for more help. Health is a life long search for integration and, like life itself, is an on-going process.

Religion points the the way and gives us guidelines for health and happiness. Religious maturity and a life of faith will often determine a person's mental health, his self- knowledge, self esteem, inner peace and happiness. Not surprisingly, studies of the relationship between mature religion and mental health have shown this to be true.

With religion, we have a unique Supporter. We may be weak, lacking much and sinful, lost in a desert of meaninglessness, feeling no one loves us, but with the correct attitude we  know that God loves us and that makes for a joyful and hopeful person.

Essentially all treatment and healing comes with being loved. Knowing we are loved opens the way of hope, even with the difficulties and scars inflicted by life. The Church community also allows us to share and communicate; traveling the same road we can depend on one another.

Once we know God, are we happy? Answering yes to this question means we must also make an effort to plant this same faith and joy in the hearts of others, especially the children. The development of faith requires effort if it is to guide us to a mature faith life. If we work to raise our children's grades and self confidence, we should also consider the essential part faith life has in maintaining their mental health, as well. 

1 comment:

  1. In my professional life I see time and again the effects of children and adults who do not have an “anchor” to help them stabilize during times in life when there are inclement weather and rough seas. When we have a meaningful anchor, belief and in this case relationship with Christ, then we are able to remain afloat, take stock as needed of the situation at hand and plot a new course when weather permits. Those without an anchor sway this way and that. They tend to find themselves adrift and report feeling without hope. Developing one’s anchor or mature relationship with Christ doesn’t happen overnight, it can take years, and ideally, it starts in childhood, were children have both the opportunity to observe their parents' (or primary caregiver's) relationship to God as they navigate through a life, and then learn to internalize the strategies, values, beliefs and mirrored feelings of their parents. This assimilation overtime takes a deep root in the child’s formation of self in the world and the formation of self in relation to God. This is why it is so important for parents to place nothing above the importance of their children’s faith formation. Tend to the child’s faith formation, and one prepares a child for a temporal life well lived, and eternal life with the child’s creator, faithful loved ones and all the angles and saints. Is there a greater blessing?