America facing ‘mental health disaster,’ American Association of Christian Counselors head says

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America is in the throes of a "mental health disaster" that requires a holistic solution grounded in a biblical worldview and starting in the family, according to Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors. 

"We don't have a mental health crisis. We have a mental health disaster going on," Clinton said in a recent statement to The Christian Post.

More than one in five U.S. adults currently live with a mental illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and one in five youth (ages 13-18), either currently or at some point during their life, have suffered a seriously debilitating mental illness.

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According to Clinton, faith and family play key roles in getting ahead of the mental illness epidemic, particularly among America's youth.

Tim Clinton is the President of the American Association of Christian Counselors.
Tim Clinton is the President of the American Association of Christian Counselors. | YouTube/ Seacoast Church

"When you look at modern-day culture, what they're doing is ripping the foundation out from underneath the family, the fabric of society. So goes the family, so goes the Church, and so goes the culture," Clinton said.

"We have to do everything we can to maintain as much stability as we can. AACC wants to be a champion for strong relationships. It starts with strong marriages and strong families where kids' little hearts are fashioned in those homes. A lot of kids are broken. They're growing up in brokenness and that impacts their everyday life," he explained.

"If you look at all the mental health strategies for kids, the very first step is for mom and dad to get connected with their kids. The next step is to get mentors, Sunday school teachers and youth pastors connected with these kids. Being present and being connected, that relationship piece is at the heart of every strategy to help our kids have success in life," he added.

The AACC is the world's largest and most diverse Christian counseling association. Clinton insists that most people who seek mental health services "want God in the picture."

"Our hope in this life is directly related to our relationship with God in Christ," he said. "Those who are Christian counselors bring Jesus into the equation. A real significant majority of people who seek out mental health services want God in the picture."

Despite popular pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, claiming there is no such thing as mental illness, Clinton noted that society is increasingly becoming aware of the many ways in which mental health can be impacted and the various solutions to those problems.

"I think people are becoming more aware of mental health-related issues. Some people really do have biology-related issues that are fueling their depression. There may be multiple reasons why they can't pull themselves up," said Clinton, licensed as a professional counselor and marriage and family therapist.

"As we understand neuroscience, neurobiology and brain science, we know that in the brain, you can develop patterns, or what is called 'rutting.' You can get yourself into patterns that have to be overcome," he added. "The good news is the power of relationships. We're learning that those relationships can have the same effect on the brain as good medicine."

According to its website, the AACC seeks to help Christian counselors, the entire "community of care," licensed professionals, pastors and lay church members with little or no formal training effectively minister to and counsel individuals with mental health challenges.

The group's School of Mental Health Coaching, Light University, offers educational programs ranging from certification courses to continuing education for counselors and those wanting to become Christian counselors and coaches.

"It is our intention to equip clinical, pastoral, and lay caregivers with biblical truth and psychosocial insights that minister to hurting persons and help them move to personal wholeness, interpersonal competence, mental stability, and spiritual maturity," says the organization.

While counseling, psychology and evidence-based practices can be helpful and can lead to change in a person's life, Clinton said, "the real hope comes from Christ."

"AACC provides mental health training for Christians so that those seeking help should not have trouble finding that help. Asking for help is hard. Finding help shouldn't be," he stated. 

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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