Ministry Hosts Lecture by Christian Counseling Professionalby Eileen Scott, Senior Writer
Depression is an unwanted intruder into the lives of millions of Americans, including students at top universities. Many of these young people attempt to hide their pain while coping with competing demands and lofty expectations.
A recent lecture sponsored by Christian Union's ministry at Dartmouth took aim at this often-misunderstood malady, creating awareness and empowering one student to take a life-altering step. In the spring, Alasdair Groves, Dartmouth '04, gave a presentation on depression as part of the ministry's leadership lecture series. Groves, the executive director of the Christian Counseling Educational Foundation in New England, highlighted the various manifestations of depression and emphasized there is no quick fix to overcome it.
"Depression is that place where all is dark and there is no hope, and you can feel with every ounce of your being that things are bad and there is no clear way anything will get better," he said.
However, Groves offered hope by sharing recommendations for those living with the disease and for those sojourning with them.
"Overall, the presentation was very practical and freeing for students. Many have stated that it has helped them love others better," said Chase Carlisle, a Christian Union ministry fellow at Dartmouth.
More than 50 students attended the lecture. Some were members of Christian Union's ministry, while others were invited by concerned friends. One student came for the information, but left with a startling realization.
"It was scary when [Groves] described patients and what they went through," said the student. "He described my life. That was when I realized this is a serious thing and should be looked into."
After seeking professional help, the student is learning to cope with the symptoms of depression and is able to identify some triggers. The student is beginning to be less reclusive and to live a more balanced life, while realizing depression can be an ongoing battle with no easy exit strategy.
The student also found support within the ministry and from a highly skilled, compassionate Christian Union faculty member.
"Christian Union has helped," said the student. "A ministry fellow gave me encouragement and reminds me of why my views of myself are wrong." The mentor forthrightly explained to the student that feelings of not being cared about are simply not true and also engages the student with the truth in Scripture.
Another student, Arthur Mensah '19, learned about depression for himself and those he cares about.
"The practical ways highlighted to aid in tackling depression were very eye opening," said Mensah, who hails from Libya and Ghana. "I found [Groves] very eloquent and very knowledgeable. I appreciated that he was sensitive in his delivery and was careful not to create an uncomfortable atmosphere. It struck a chord with several people."
Mensah, who plans to study psychology, said the lecture empowered him to be more active in fighting depression, rather than "just waiting for the feeling to lessen with time." He also sees the knowledge as a leadership tool, within the Christian community and on campus.
"It allows us to help incoming freshmen and our peers as they struggle with depression," said Mensah, an active member of Christian Union. "I think Christian students, much like all students, feel a pressure to be perfect in all aspects of their lives. Since that perfection is unattainable, it is often difficult to be vulnerable and open up about sin and many students instead internalize it and struggle on their own."
As Carlisle noted, "In order to help others through depression, we need to ask the Lord for humility, be faithful to being with others in it, and be brave," and, in the process, lovingly reflect the love of God to help illuminate the shadows of depression.