Los Angeles County evangelical school adds Bible readings in mental health services

An evangelical university in Los Angeles County, California, provides its students with ample mental health services at a ratio of eight students per one therapist. Aside from that, Biola University also adds Bible readings in its sessions to help struggling students with their problems.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)Students with mental illness take refuge in the Bible in a Los Angeles evangelical college.

The school employs four full-time licensed therapists as well as 18 part-timers. There are also 66 graduate students who work at the counseling centers while awaiting their licenses. They all work alongside the school's spiritual advisers, according to a report from Chris Haire of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

"The Bible is full of messed up people," the director of the counseling center, Melanie Tayor, stated. "So I will use them as an example."

Taylor usually recommends discussing with a spiritual adviser if a student wants more clarity about God's influence in their lives. In the same way, the spiritual advisers also tell students to talk to the therapists if their problems are more about mental health. In some cases, it is the first time for these students to struggle with their beliefs, thus the therapists assess if they need spiritual clarity as well.

"Our door is always open [for students] who need guidance and wisdom and someone to listen to. A lot of students will feel better just after talking for a bit," Todd Pickett, the dean of spiritual development said in the report. "The hope is they will come to own their relationship with God more deeply."

Biola University, founded in 1908, has over 6,000 students. Last year, the therapists and spiritual advisors saw 680 young people with mental health issues.

Sixty million people suffer from mental health problems in America, which makes the condition more prevalent than diabetes and cancer. When unaddressed, people with mental illness turn to drugs or alcohol, or end up in jail and lose their jobs or family.

Churches and ministries, therefore, have a role in helping these individuals and their families by working together with mental health professionals, as what Biola University is doing. Mental illness should be given the same attention in care and treatment, including spiritual rehabilitation in the same manner as chronic medical illnesses, according to the Bible Org.