Monday, June 23, 2008

Checking the Facts

This is a follow up to last week's "mental health" post. I contacted the presenter who had given the statistic about the percent of people suffering depression, and got this note back today:

The information that I quoted was from the University Of Illinois at Chicago on a brochure they sent advertising an educational event. I actually misquoted what they said, sorry about that. Here is the quote:” Nearly 90% of all Americans will contend with at least one significant mental health problem during their adult lives.” “Religion and Health” by Koenig does an in-depth piece on depression. He also wrote “Faith and Mental Health.” A couple of quotes. “Depression is the most common and treatable of all mental health disorders. Approximately 330 million people around the world suffer from depression and unfortunately only 10% receive adequate treatment. At least 800,000 suicides occur each year as a result of depression…” “According to Christopher Murray, head of epidemiology at the World Health Organization, by the year 2020 unipolar major depression will be the world’s second most debilitating disease, surpassed only by cardiovascular disease.”

I guess the next step toward "checking facts" would be to actually ferret out who said that at the University of Chicago. I'd also want to know whether that person's research was well done, whether it was peer-reviewed, and whether others disagree.

Why is this important? The presenter shared the "80%" statistic to let us know that we're not alone when we're depressed. That's a noble goal. But when we share unverified truths to help people, we're guiding them to build on shaky ground. And people in trouble need solid guidance, not broken promises. Those who help people need to be skeptical, and demand the closest thing we can get to "proof."

Fortunately, our faith (which helps with depression) is not based on one person's opinion. There are good reasons for believing that Jesus is God in human flesh, who died to take away our sins and defeated death to bring hope for a bright future. If you have doubts or questions, good! Check it out! Do some research. That way your faith will stand stronger and that can help no matter what your mental or emotional health situation may be.

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