The mental health crisis among young people is a global problem that has been flagged by the World Health Organizaton, as well as by IFES in its Global Trends Report as one of the major challenges of our time. The pandemic has only made the crisis more acute. In developing countries such as Côte D’Ivoire mental health is aggravated by poverty, violence and human rights violations.
How can Christians respond?
Nina, a graduate student from Côte D’Ivoire, is now in her third year as a Catalyst with the Logos and Cosmos Initiative (LCI). She is leading a project that draws together biblical and scientific perspectives to promote good mental health among students at her university. Learn more in the 5-minute video below.
In 2023 – 2024, a total of 19 Catalysts are leading theology and the sciences projects in collaboration with their IFES national movements. Each of them receives funding, mentoring and training from the LCI and many of their projects seek to tackle big issues in their communities such as biodiversity, gender-based violence and health education around vaccinations. Explore our full range of projects on the LCI projects webpages.
This video is in French, but English subtitles are provided. An English transcript can be found below the video.
[Text on screen] The world is facing a global mental health crisis among young people.
[Text on screen] How can Christians respond?
Nina: In Ivory Coast there are many people with mental health problems. This year, in the third trimester we became aware of three students who committed suicide. There were also two cases of failed attempts.
[Text on screen] Catalysts in the Logos and Cosmos Initiative are leading projects that are tackling pressing challenges.
[Text on screen] Nina’s project: “Harnessing theology and the sciences to improve student mental health.”
[Text on screen] Ivory Coast
Nina: My name is Nina Ble Toualy. I am a doctoral student in criminology. My interest in the subject of mental health arose from various meetings that we have had on the university campus. Last year, we had ten people, ten students who were committed to psychiatric institutions.
There are many factors. There’s the pressure of achieving well in your studies, lack of housing, lack of food. In addition, there is the diversity within the student population, whether it’s socio-economic, ethnic or religious, which often leads to divisions.
Not to mention that we’ve been through a political crisis that has led to a lot of divisions, a lot of deaths, a lot of violence as well.
The Bible tells us that human beings are body, soul and spirit and theology allows us to see that for human beings to thrive they need to remain in touch with both their environment and with God.
Theology allows us to provide treatment in a holistic way.
Mental health disorders are inner wounds that have been memorized in the unconscious and in the cells of the individual. And it is this inner being, through theology, that we can holistically treat individuals.
The aim of the mental health project is to promote the health and psycho-social well-being of students. Specifically, we studied the contributions of theology to the issue of mental health problems.
We also studied the contributions of our African culture as well as the various taboos associated with this subject. It is important to understand that in Africa there is little awareness about this subject. And we have tried to do assessments and set up a psychological unit to be able to help students who suffer from these kinds of problems.
I have received, through the Logos and Cosmos Initiative, training, follow-up, and funding, human and material support. The LCI was at the heart of this project.
In terms of activities, we had a conference. After the conference, we held a seminar on mental health and we also held a seminar with churches.
The impact of this project was massive.
We were able to reach more than 45 people through the distribution of brochures and through seminars and conferences.
At the psychological level, we were able to support 14 people who continue to be supported by a psychologist and a pastor who helps them.
Our universities have an opportunity to help students, to be able to give them social and psychological help.
But we have to admit that there is a lot of work ahead of us.
There’s still a long way to go.
Now, at the university level we want to find out how these disorders are transmitted, and how we can put in place a program for building resilience to help students acquire the ability to adapt based on their relationship with the Lord. And to be able to overcome difficult situations.
The fight for mental health is a commitment both civic and theological to join God’s plan which is to care for creation in all its dimensions, to bring his creation closer to him.
For the Lord has challenged me on this mission of caring for vulnerable people, people troubled with mental health problems, people who need to be listened to, who need to be supported and people who need to be loved.