By Rev. Dr. Cynthia Lindenmeyer and Rev. Kyle Sorys
Americans are all aware of supply chain shortages and resulting economic impacts due to COVID-19. But what about the ramifications of our nation’s lack of mental health and spiritual care providers?
Even before the pandemic, a shortage of therapists meant that people would wait a few weeks before seeing a professional mental health care provider. At our University, the longest wait to speak to someone does not exceed 48 hours. If you have suicidal thoughts, immediate care comes from trained therapists at our telehealth counseling partner, Uwill, or the Chaplain Team.
Related link: 5 Habits to Improve Your Physical and Mental Health
How the Chaplain Team Works to Provide Soul Care
The Chaplain Team provides soul care to our current students, alumni, staff and faculty. We pay attention to the core beliefs that affect your life journey and the subsequent thoughts and emotions that tend to affect your spirit.
Thoughts come through the mind, but emotions come from the heart. Therefore, our Chaplain Team doesn’t explore the mind, but the heart.
Emotions are different from thoughts, yet they are intertwined. When emotions and thoughts interact with one another (the psyche), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and make the abrupt decision that the quickest way to stop the pain is to cease existing.
When you rationalize death as the only way to escape an undesirable situation – such as a relationship, physical pain or emotional pain caused by feelings such as shame, guilt, and remorse – we will listen to you. We will offer support and provide spiritual coaching or resources.
When you contact a University Chaplain or someone else tells us that you have expressed suicidal thoughts, that instigates an immediate response. Often, most people reveal they were only feeling frustrated and angry. Sometimes, they just need to vent by posting in a classroom discussion forum that “I just don’t want to live anymore.”
An Increase in the Use of the University’s Chaplain Services
Over time, the Chaplain Team has seen an increase in the number of people genuinely intending to harm themselves and wishing they were dead. Often, the majority of these people are experiencing severe mental health issues, such as:
- Chronic depression
- Anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress
- Bipolar disorder
Often, suicidal ideation is a symptom of a much larger problem that points to a lack of mental health support and the availability of resources. The Chaplain Team offers the needed space, compassion, and deep listening for you to feel heard and seen in a profoundly powerful way.
In our experience, we find that our supportive presence can de-escalate a dire situation. Sometimes, we cannot be the ultimate fix to a much larger and underlying issue that many people experience. But we help in the best way we can, and people often feel better after talking with a chaplain.
However, the recurrence of distressing emotions will require the resources needed to care for long-term mental health. Through our collaboration with Uwill, we ensure that our students receive follow-up long-term care if needed.
Overall, much of the underlying currents that cause depression or mental overload result from trauma. At its core, trauma comes from a limited belief system of the wonderful spiritual being you are who desires to enjoy the gift of life.
Understanding core beliefs that block your true potential is a process, and we can help you discover it. We believe that the inner healer can help you transcend the difficulties swirling in your heart, mind, and soul, and we seek to help that inner healer’s voice be heard.
How to Contact the Chaplain Team or UWill When You Need Soul Care
The Chaplain Team is here for you when you need soul care, and you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Know that when you contact us, we care about you and you matter.
To reach the Uwill team, enter app.uwill.com in your browser and put in your university email address.
About the Authors
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Lindenmeyer is the head chaplain on the University’s Chaplain Team since 2008 and also serves as the pastor for the Sacred Activism Community. She resides in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Cynthia has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and history from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a master of divinity degree in theology and theological studies from Duke University and a doctoral degree in ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Rev. Kyle Sorys has been with the University’s Chaplain team since 2019. He also serves as the Spiritual Care Coordinator at Kindred Hospice and, the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher at the Mindfulness Outreach Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska. Kyle holds a bachelor’s degree in contemplative psychology and a master of divinity in religion and religious studies from Naropa University.