Mental Health Chapel Theme During Suicide Prevention Month

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This year, BJU students will receive a fall break in addition to a full Thanksgiving week break. BJU President Steve Pettit reminded students of the Oct. 18–19 break at the beginning of a series of chapel messages on a biblical worldview of mental health.

In his Monday message, Pettit referenced a survey by the University of Michigan that found depression and anxiety to be on the rise in college students because of health, political and racial issues. Based on these statistics and the need seen in the BJU student body, the decision was made to introduce a fall break as well as a mental health wellness focus in chapel.

“I am so thankful for this week’s chapel theme,” said graduate biblical counseling student Amanda Vermiglio. “We are at that point of the semester where we are all tired from the demands of being a student. Not only is a student load demanding, but it is also easy to be worn down from the situation in our society and from situations back home.”

Pettit introduced the week’s theme and gave a biblical definition of mental health. “The way to a healthy mind is when the imagination is actively being supported or sustained through right thinking about God, and these thoughts are the basis for your trust in God,” he said. “You can’t trust God if you don’t think correctly about God.”

The next two messages met students where they live. BJU Seminary’s newest faculty member Dr. Bruce Meyer spoke on anxiety. “It is our reactions to stress, our anxiety that is a potential threat to the health of our mind,” he said. “We refresh our anxious hearts when we trust our infinite God to handle our finite cares.”

Dr. Pearson Johnson, director of student care, spoke on a more uncomfortable topic: suicide and its prevention. “We’re coming to the end of National Suicide Prevention Month,” he said. “We’re thankful for what takes place in our culture as, I think, an aspect of God’s common grace. … But we as Christians have much more to offer than just awareness, just awkwardness, just presence. We have more to offer because we have Jesus Christ. We have the power of the Holy Spirit, and we have the Word of God that is available and accessible for us to move and help one another.”

The series was a timely reminder to the BJU community to look to Jesus for peace and strength. Said Vermiglio: “With so many things going on, it is so important to see what the Bible says about our mind and how God gives us peace when we are focused on Him.”