Monday, October 14, 2013

Orientation Training...Emotional Health

Being a missionary can be tough on a person emotionally and MAF understands this. As part of our training, we got to sit down in a group setting with a Christian counselor and coach. It was so much fun to openly discuss some of these issues with our counselor since he made it so interesting. Discussing things about depression, desolation, and anxiety are pretty tough issues in general, but mix in how it relates to field work and you could have some serious issues on hand.

The first part of the training dealt with depression. We discussed many symptoms and how to take notice of these things. We also talked about why people get depressed from a Christian stand point and why medications are sometimes an appropriate solution. Considering my prior background (late teen years until pre-pregnancy) with depression, I really appreciated his Biblical view on mental health.

The next part talked about the difference in spiritual desolation vs. depression. There is a huge difference! Spiritual desolation is an experience of your soul that is part of your spiritual growth. Because some people can confuse this with clinical depression, we discussed ways to interpret the differences and realize no one is at fault.

In the third part of the training, we discussed anxiety (and/or worry). These symptoms are a bit different from depression in that the thoughts consume, and begin to affect you physically. Anxiety can eventually cause impairment in a social setting and lead to bigger physiological issues later is left unnoticed and untreated. The most important part of this training in my opinion was how to recognize these issues in children.

After discussing these heavy topics, we talked a lot on why they exist from both a scientific and a Biblical standpoint. All of the information made sense to me! Then, we took the time to determine how to address the issues. I won't go into all the details but will sum it up by saying that MAF has a lot of resources in place to help us if there are any issues. We even have a whole department dedicated to the care of us as MAF staff! This training really made me appreciate the steps MAF goes through to keep their missionaries healthy mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I know I can say no other job I have had in the past has involved so much preparation or given us this many ways to keep up our mental health!

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