© Pixabay
© Pixabay

Pastor Park, Ki-young (professor at Sunggyeol University) recently emphasized on the importance of mental health management in the era of COVID-19 in an article titled "Christian's Mental Health In the Era of COVID blues," published in the 'Sunggyeol Newspaper'.

Pastor Park said, "According to the Seoul Mental Health Welfare Center, 4,283 people received psychological counseling on COVID-19 from February 6th to March 24th in 2020, and unlike before, many people complained of mental health difficulties. However, they tend to think lightly that mental health difficulties will be solved naturally over time."

He added, "However, as a result of such negligence, there come out surprisingly many people suffering from mental health problems." Then the professor explained why we have to pay attention onto our mental health.

"First, God made humans into spirit, flesh, and soul. Second, it is because there are many topics related to mental health in the Bible, which can be the realm of soul."

"For example, 'Don't be afraid' (Matthew 10:31, Proverbs 3:25, Isaiah 43:5) or 'Slow to anger' (Proverbs 19:11, Proverbs 14:29) and 'A crushed spirit dries up the bones.' (Proverbs 17:22, Proverbs 15:13) are lessons related to Christian's mental health. In this case, a psychological approach would be needed because it may be caused by distorted beliefs or trauma."

Pastor Park continued, "Third, spirituality and mental health cause interaction with each other. If a couple fights before going to church, it would be difficult for them to focus on worship that day. On the other hand, if there is a problem with spirituality, it could affect not only psychological and emotional minds but also the health of the body. Thus it is very important to maintain both physical and mental health."

"Loss of health, wealth, loved ones, face-to-face worship, and friendship are one of the primary causes of mental depression. In particular, various losses caused by COVID-19 are depressing us. Then how are we able to overcome this kind of depression?"
Pastor Park said, "Step 1, accepting the loss itself is the first thing to do in overcoming mental depression. It's because when you acknowledge the loss, you will be finding ways to adjust to the present." "Step 2, you should be able to notice your feelings casued from the loss because the loss causes emotions like sadness, anger, depression, and anxiety." 

He also said. "Step 3 requires a mourning process that expresses your sad feelings caused by loss in a healthy manner. Suppressing negative emotions would rather cause a vicious cycle that makes you more depressed."

In addition, "Step 4, Stop blaming yourself on the cause of the loss. These actions are not helpful to you at all. Instead you have to take care of yourself who is struggling with the loss."

"Level 5, you need to realize the meaning of loss and take a look from God's perspective. This is because there is God's good providence in everything. Otherwise, if you keep looking at the loss negatively, you will make yourself trapped in depressive feelings." 

Then, "Stage 6, in order to get away from the sense of loss in the past, you have to take value-oriented actions (religious life, hobbies, meaningful work, etc.) which can replace the loss. Otherwise, there would be a possibility of addictive behaviors to fill the emptiness inside you. 

He lastly mentioned "Stage 7, if you can see yourself coping with loss and yourself growing up through flexible responses, you will be able to reach a high level of gratitude even if you have suffered from severe loss."

Pastor Park said, "It is not easy for pastors to spend a lot of time on counseling with church members because it is not to be healed with one or two consultations for those suffering from severe depression above the middle level. In that case, it will be desirable for pastors to use a cooperative system by requesting counseling work to professional christian counselors." 

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