Oaks of Righteousness-Mental Health for Followers of Christ

To grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.—Isaiah 61:3

College students are at an increased risk of developing mental illness due to elevated academic stress, disruption of sleep patterns, and high rate of change typical of this stage of life. Mental illness is a stigma in the church where it is often viewed as something shameful, which only perpetuates misunderstanding and misinformation. The series, which spanned six sessions, allowed us to delve into theology-on the Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration and to understand the complex composition and interconnectedness of the mind, body and spirit. We were able to discover the steadfastness of God’s love in the midst of all of the brokenness of systems in this fallen sinful world and we discussed the unique roles of the body of Christ for those struggling with mental health-to share the load of the emotional weight; to weep with those weeping and to help them grow through it, not “get over it”.

“Personally, I enjoyed how the series looked at mental health from a Christian perspective. It helped me too see that the two ideas are not separated, but rather can function together. I also enjoyed how the series created an opportunity to have meaningful dialogue.”

Trevor Vezina, Junior

“What I remember most from Oaks of Righteousness is the talk on the Old Testament. It was so eye-opening, to realize that although the New Testament says to "rejoice in all circumstances," the Old Testament includes so many examples of emotional struggle and pain in the Psalms and Prophets, as well as the accounts of David, Elijah, and others. This showed me that we can be totally honest before God with how we are feeling, even while we are called to rejoice in His truth. This also helps me better sympathize with others without judgement, because I know that even great heroes of the faith suffered from forms of mental illness. Oaks of Righteousness was convicting for me because it showed me how much I assume about others' mental states without knowing anything about what led them to that place.” Esther Witherell, Junior