For many, the upcoming holidays are a needed respite from the stress of finals as well as a welcome chance to connect with loved ones, but for others the holidays are a time of loneliness and additional stress from either the obligation of being around family or from the absence of family.
A 2014 National Alliance of Mental Health survey found that for those with mental health issues, 64% reported their mental health worsening around the holidays.  For this reason, The Collegian has decided to cover mental health this week, specifically discussing the intersection of mental health and other areas of life.
In an Adventist setting, conversations about mental health often lead to conversations about spiritual health. Perhaps a parent, pastor, or friend has told you that your mental health issues are the result of a weak spiritual life and to “fix” your mental state you need to “fix” your relationship with Christ. Such attitudes are not only in opposition of scientific data and medical knowledge, but they also place undue blame on individuals and position a relationship with Christ as a burden to be carried in exchange for mental wellbeing.
Contrarily, to say spirituality has nothing to do with mental health in the context of an Adventist belief system is to say that Christ either cannot or will not play a role in the health and wellbeing of his children—something believers in Christ would obviously disagree with. Clearly, there must be some middle ground. To learn and about how a religion professor and a pastor on this campus navigate this subject and argue for this middle ground, read Ana’s article.
Another intersection discussed in this week’s issue is that of mental health and our relationship with food. Have you ever felt guilty for eating something? Have you constructed a binary in your head of “good” and “bad” foods? Have you ever let these types of thoughts consume your day and prevent you from enjoying food and other aspects of life?
While healthy eating is one of the cornerstones of Adventism, sometimes the narratives we tell ourselves about what we should and shouldn’t eat can have negative effects on our mental health and our relationship with food.
This topic is especially important to think about as we head into the holidays, a time when it seems like we are confronted everyday with foods that we have traditionally been told are “bad.” To learn more about how what we tell ourselves about food impacts our mental health, read Megan’s feature, “Food Talks.”
This week, The Collegian also discussed the intersection of mental health and the outdoors with an article by Noah featuring an interview with student Matthew Bernard, and an article by Judy on the benefits that hobbies and fulfilling personal activities have on mental health.
If you are struggling with mental health (including eating disorders) please seek professional help from the counseling center. If you are struggling with loneliness, know the chaplain’s office has an open door to students. If you find yourself spending much of your time on social media, take time this holiday season to get outside and to enjoy fulfilling hobbies.
Mental health and the holiday blues. (2014, Nov 19). National Alliance on Mental Health. https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2014/Mental-health-and-the-holiday-blues
letter from the editor photo. Photo by ASWWU Photo, Sebastian C.