Since its beginning, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been committed to whole-person care and the restoration of life as God designed it to be. We were created for lives of deep and intimate connectedness with God and man, and for bountiful enjoyment of everything God has generously given. God wants us to enjoy vitality of body, mind and soul.
Historically, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has promoted the health of the body and soul, and we now sense the need to increase our emphasis on mental health and wellbeing. This is part of the mandate of the Seventh-day Adventist Church: “To deal with minds is the greatest work ever committed to men” (Ellen White, Historical Sketches p. 209).
Recognizing the lack of mental health services, resources, and access to care, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2012 adopted a resolution to address this problem, stating that there is “no health without mental health.” The WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 reports that individuals “with mental disorders experience disproportionately higher rates of disability and mortality,” citing a 40-60% increased risk of dying prematurely for people suffering major depression and schizophrenia, often related to comorbid chronic diseases. Depression is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.” Conservative estimates indicate that at least one in ten worldwide suffer from a mental disorder every year, and at least one in four will suffer from a mental disorder during their lifetime. When it comes to services for people with mental health disorders, the WHO reports that:
- “Health systems have not yet adequately responded to the burden of mental disorders.”
- “The gap between the need for treatment and its provision is large all over the world.”
- “Between 76% and 85% of people with severe mental disorders receive no treatment for their disorder in low-income and middle-income countries; the corresponding range for high-income countries is also high: between 35% and 50%.”
- “A further compounding problem is the poor quality of care for those receiving treatment.”
- “The number of specialized and general health workers dealing with mental health in low-income and middle-income countries is grossly insufficient.”
- “Civil society movements for mental health in low-income and middle-income countries are not well developed.”
In order to compensate for these overwhelming deficiencies, the WHO recommends partnering with a multiplicity of organizations, including faith-based organizations. Their recommendations include:
- Developing and implementing tools and strategies for self-help and care for persons with mental disorders, including the use of electronic and mobile technologies
- A public health approach to increase knowledge and understanding of mental health disorders
- Early childhood programs addressing cognitive, sensory-motor and psychosocial development
- Promotion of healthy child-parent relationships
- School-based strategies for improving life-skills, preventing violence, promoting healthy lifestyle, and preventing substance abuse
The Church’s Response
Although the Seventh-day Adventist Church has embraced a whole-person perspective in health since its inception, it has not developed freely available, comprehensive programs to contribute effectively to promotion and prevention within the area of mental health. We acknowledge that there is a significant need and demand for such resources. We believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church, if sufficiently resourced and utilizing its worldwide infrastructure, may contribute significantly to mental health promotion and prevention in the church community and in society at large. The goal of MindWell is to offer a comprehensive mental health program to minister effectively to the mental needs of people of all ages within and outside the church.