I am 24 years old, and it seems to me that our church health emphasis is only on food and diet. Many of my friends have anxiety and depression. Does the Adventist Church focus on just physical health, or on mental and emotional health as well?
We empathize with you. From the correspondence we receive, and sometimes the spirit in which it is written, it seems to us that food and nutrition are the topics foremost on the minds of many. Our Creator’s intent from the beginning, however, and the distinctive characteristic of the Adventist health message from our founding as a church, have been wholistic and include the well-being of body, mind, and spirit, as well as social and emotional dimensions. While it is necessary to follow healthful principles of nutrition, it is as important to drink clean water; rest and sleep adequately; engage in daily, healthful physical activity; have safe exposure to sunshine; breathe fresh clean air, where possible; be temperate and balanced by avoiding all things harmful, and using good things wisely; and enjoy healthy relationships and social support. We need to truly know and trust God; this key relationship will help us to have wholeness even in our brokenness. Robust evidence from research and science confirm that when rightly applied, the Adventist health message benefits our mental and emotional well-being.
Mental and emotional health issues are the leading causes of disability today.
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, affecting an estimated 300 million people worldwide. It is one of the main causes of disability.
Bipolar affective disorder affects approximately 60 million people worldwide. This condition typically consists of episodes that vary between depression and times of excessive activity, decreased need for sleep, and irritable moods.
An estimated 50 million people globally have dementia, and this number is expected to triple in the next 30 years.
Psychoses such as schizophrenia are another form of mental illness and are characterized by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, language, and behavior. Schizophrenia affects about 23 million people worldwide.
Anxiety and depression disorders cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year.
Adventist Health Ministries of the General Conference regards mental and emotional health and well-being of such importance that as of July 1, 2018, Dr. Torben Bergland, a psychiatrist, will join our team as an associate director. His coming lends additional strength and expertise to the excellent service of Drs. Carlos Fayard and David Williams, both honorary associate directors of Adventist Health Ministries. Together with other experts, they generously sacrifice time and effort to raise awareness regarding mental health. We educate, help decrease stigmatization of mental and emotional health issues, and produce resources for the world church on mental health. We appreciate the contributions of our dedicated health professionals around the world who are making the difference in the area of mental and emotional health.
Our Savior came that we “may have life, and have it to the full”! (John 10:10, NIV2). Together, we can do more for all to enjoy better mental health!
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.