Egyptian Churches, be they orthodox, catholic, or evangelical, are not only spiritual havens for their children; but are national Churches that sense and confront challenges faced by the community one and all. On top of these challenges are health, behavioural and psychological ailments. The Church never expects the State authorities or civil society institutions to bear the burden alone; it takes the initiative and intervenes in monitoring, analysing and treating ills. To its credit, the Church has over the years been proactive in tackling thorny issues even before the State or civil society did.
It has been pioneering in instating programmes such as family counselling, pre-marriage courses for couples planning marriage, courses for newlyweds, and modern family care. In so doing, it has become a role model for fostering family health and stability.
In its current issue, Watani presents another episode in its series titled “Church care for the most vulnerable”; it sheds light on the thought, work and achievements of the Synodal Committee for Mental Health and Fighting Addiction. The Committee has a remarkable record in combatting numerous behavioural and mental ills rampant in modern times; this includes depression, suicide, and addiction to drugs, Internet, and pornography, also the scourge of sexual deviance. The main features of the story published in Watani focus on the following concepts.
Treating behavioural ills cannot be done through condemning, isolating or marginalising perpetrators under the pretext of protecting healthy members of the community. Instead, perpetrators should be embraced and offered awareness and treatment to restore them back to health. They may then work under the supervision of experts to offer hope and guidance to others suffering from the same ailment, acting as role models.
The mission of the Committee for Mental Health and Fighting Addiction centres on the vision of a society free of mental conflict, behavioural disorders, and addiction risks; while at the same time preserving human dignity; accepting and respecting the other; practising compassion and cooperation; and rooting confidence, commitment, and integrity.
Addiction is escalating in Egypt, and the Egyptian Church is part and parcel of the Egyptian community. In its attempt to limit behavioural disorders and all sorts of addiction, the Church offers a plethora of spiritual and awareness activities. Yet these did not stop the rise of addiction especially among young people, a high proportion of whom are far from the Church, submerged in modern challenges, frustrations, and difficulties.
The Church was among the earliest institutions in Egypt to spot, through its Committee for Mental Health and Fighting Addiction, a rise in addiction to drugs, Internet and social media, and pornography; also a rise in cases of sexual deviance. In this context, the Church detected in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic an increase in the rates of psychological distress such as anxiety, stress, depression and suicidal tendencies.
The Church has worked on raising the awareness of families and guiding them towards adopting a positive role to rescue their children from the perils of behavioural and addiction hazards. It urges families to address their children’s problems not through excluding them or resorting to punishment or violence, but through showering them with love, surrounding them with security, resorting to dialogue, and urging them to practise self-revision and resist their weaknesses despite difficulties and frustrations.
The Church has addressed the penalties commonly inflicted by parents on children, hoping to rectify that behaviour. Many parents resort to confiscating their children’s mobile phones or tablets, assuming they thus force them away from the Internet. But these parents forget that the children can satiate their addiction through other means such as using their friends’ devices. Real treatment can only come with love and dialogue, convincing the children of the hazards of addiction so they can be persuaded to quit. In other words, the cure relies on a healthy relationship and friendship between parents and children.
Addiction can be cured only if the addict develops the will for a cure. And there are good tools to use to inspire that will.
5 August 2022