Mental health has come a long way over the last fifty years
4 MINUTE READ
As a medical student in India, my first love was obstetrics and gynaecology. However, I was disillusioned by events during my internship year and was about to walk away from medicine into full-time Christian ministry. I am ever grateful to the late Dr Frank Garlick who counselled me against giving up medicine prematurely. That is when I considered psychiatry as a career. Psychiatry considers the physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of a person, rather than just an organ or system. As a Christian, I also wanted to consider spiritual aspects when dealing with patients, an area often overlooked by secular psychiatrists.
I completed my psychiatric training in the 1970s in the United Kingdom. The first question that I was asked by Christians was, “Why psychiatry?” This was often followed by, “How can a Christian practice in a non-Christian or anti-Christian field of medicine”? This was also a common question posed by Christian medical students in India when I was the full-time General Secretary of the Evangelical Medical Fellowship of India (equivalent to the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia). I had to explain that though psychiatry was tarnished by atheists like Freud, the specialty was no less or more Christian than any other field of medical practice and that as a Christian, there were great opportunities.
Though there have been substantial changes since the 1970s, there is still a lot of misunderstanding and stigma among Christians when it comes to mental health/illness. This is very sad. Along with the pain and suffering caused by the illness, many Christians with mental health concerns have to also endure the stigma from fellow Christians. To remove the stigma, I am passionate about doing what I can to educate the Christian community. Following my retirement as a public sector psychiatrist, my focus has been to work with Christian organisations in this space, primarily through the Centre for Theology and Psychology.
I am therefore thrilled to be involved with this issue of Luke’s Journal which focuses on mental health. There has been an overwhelming response to the invitation for articles, resulting in the need for a follow-up issue on the topic.
A great variety of articles can be found in this issue, from understanding mental health in young people and addictions to insights from the lived experience of those with mental illnesses, as well as the care-giver.
You can also read about counselling from a general practitioner’s perspective and how to avoid burnout as healthcare providers, written by a dental practitioner with first-hand experience of burnout. From a scholarly perspective, we have an article on mental health among refugees. A colleague of mine from the Centre for Theology and Psychology shared about integrating theology and psychology and the difficult topic of suicide is also explored. I would like to commend these articles for your reading, and hope that you will find them useful to you.
We would love to know how the articles have impacted you. If you would like to share your insights, please email the Luke’s Journal editorial team.
May God bless you.
Professor Kuruvilla George (KG)
Professor Kuruvilla George (KG) retired in 2020 as Clinical Director of Aged Person’s Mental Health and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for Eastern Health, Victoria. KG was also a Clinical Professor at Deakin University and Clinical Associate Professor at Monash University. He served as the Deputy Chief Psychiatrist in Victoria from 2002 to 2012. KG currently serves as the Honorary Associate Director of the Centre for Theology and Psychology at the Melbourne School of Theology.
Grace Nickson is an occupational therapist with five years’ experience working both within private practice and academic settings. Balancing the roles of a devoted mother, loving wife, and steadfast Christian, she thrives in a private practice setting, supporting and empowering NDIS clients and guiding students as a supervisor. Beyond her professional commitment, Grace channels her experiences with mental health into powerful artwork, showcasing resilience and creativity. Rooted in faith, Grace strives to blend her expertise, maternal warmth, spiritual grace, and a dedication to mentoring future generations into her everyday life.