Patrick Henry College’s first ever Mental Health Week concluded on February 16, and students learned about topics from emotional maturity to the importance of boundaries.
Senior Anna Grace Stroven attended multiple talks throughout the week.
"I’ve come away feeling convicted about improving my relationship with God," Anna Grace said. "I received some solid encouragement that while emotions are definitely important in relationship to our spiritual well-being as Christians, we are not a slave to our feelings. Our emotions, God willing, can be better managed when we better understand our own habits of mind."
A Professor Shares His Story
Dr. Spinney started off Mental Health Week on February 12 by sharing his own journey grappling with depression in chapel.
“I don’t need my depression to go away — I wish it would, I really do — but thanks to God’s grace, I can also function,” he said.
Dr. Spinney worked through Psalm 13 and pointed out David’s symptoms of depression and his response to God while he was struggling. David cried out to God, described how he felt, asked God to intervene, trusted in God, worshiped Him, and did not give up on God. It's important to “worship and obey God now, without waiting to feel better,” Dr. Spinney said.
“Even when you must continue to fight with your depression, you can still prosper,” he concluded.
PHC Invites Local Experts for "Coffee Shop Lectures"
Mental Health Week continued at PHC when Dan Towery and Beth Ratchford spoke in the Barbara Hodel Center Coffee Shop on Monday and Tuesday evening, respectively.
Towery gave a biological take on mental health with a talk entitled “Brain Surgery Without a Scalpel.”
"The brain is shaped in relationships," he explained.
For the most part, these relationships could be physical, cognitive, or spiritual. As we age, we form certain habits, and if we want to change some of those habits, we must utilize the plasticity of our brains to physically change the way we think and act, Towery explained.
Ratchford's titled her talk "Why Our Mental Health is Important and Why It’s Good to do Your Soul Work."
She noted that people focus on improving physically and intellectually, but neglect the spiritual — our very souls.
“In order to be fully who we are and who God created us to be, we really need to connect with our heart and our soul," Ratchford said. "We need to know who we are, and how our story — present and past — impacts who we are now."
PHC's In-House Counselors Share What Every Student Should Know
PHC’s in-house licensed counselors, Christopher Doyle and Tracy Carter, spoke to the entire student body during their chapel messages.
Doyle, who is an author, addressed emotionally unhealthy spirituality and gave students a list of "symptoms" on February 14. He noted that he often sees a strong drive in students to be perfect, both spiritually and academically. When this perfection is not achieved because "we all deal with brokenness, weakness, and failure," people can tend to spiral further into unhealthy habits and ways of thinking.
"[Students] often look at their relationship with God as something that they need to do for God, or perform in order to receive God’s love, instead of simply just walking with God and understanding that God loves them," Doyle said. "They don’t have to perform or cover up their weakness or brokenness in order to receive that love."
Carter addressed the topic of boundaries. She identified what healthy boundaries look like, how to establish and enforce healthy emotional boundaries, and how to have healthy relationships in life with boundaries.
Carter also noted that it is important to provide “nonjudgmental support” to those struggling with mental health issues.
“[Because of Mental Health Week], I hope students learn more about mental health, are curious about delving deeper into these topics," Carter said.
Reporting courtesy of PHC's The Herald.
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