The U.S. is experiencing an explosion of mental health issues among young people today. The pandemic has sparked even more feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation and added to the mental health crisis in America.
Mental Health America reports the following:
- A growing percentage of youth in the U.S. live with major depression.
- 15.08% of youth experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, a 1.24% increase from last year’s dataset.
- Over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe depression, and multiracial youth are at greatest risk. The rate of severe depression was highest among youth who identified as more than one race, at 14.5%.
- Over 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. Even in states with the greatest access, nearly one in three are going without treatment.¹
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 9.4% of children aged 2-17 (6.1 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD. 7.1% have been diagnosed with anxiety, and 3.2% with depression.²
This crisis is especially troubling among children in elementary school. The CDC found that one in six children ages 2-8 has a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder.³ Couple that with a shortage of psychiatrists and mental health providers, and equipping providers with the proper tools and education becomes extremely important. Many family, community, and healthcare concerns are related to children’s mental health.
A school counselor at Calvary Christian Academy in South Florida, Dr. Clifford Mack sees those challenges every week. He also coaches the school’s middle-school girls’ basketball team. As a graduate of TIU-Florida, he has also been teaching as an adjunct professor for TIU-Florida for 10 years, after earning his Ph.D. He teaches in the university’s Masters of Arts program in Mental Health Counseling. “I love teaching classes focusing on school counseling: school guidance and counseling, school consultation, child adolescent counseling, as well as children at risk. I also teach a number of other courses: psychology, theology, as well as multicultural counseling.”
Mack says he enjoys, “teaching the skills of being a school counselor: the art of consultation, collaboration, being able to work with a wider diversity of students, parents, and cultures. I would say ‘School Counseling’ is my favorite class to teach.”
Mack is intent on preparing the next generation of school counselors. “It’s the opportunity of helping out the next man or woman who wants to be a school counselor or mental health counselor, working within the church; to know that I played a small part in helping them get the tools and techniques to do whatever God has called them to.”
“If you feel a calling upon your life, TIU-Florida is a great place for you.”
He empathizes with those who want to complete their degrees while working and taking care of a family. Mack describes the ideal TIU-Florida student as, “Someone who is an adult, someone who is feeling the calling upon their life to go into counseling, whatever that may be. And to be able to say, ‘You know what? I have children, but I want to get training in a Christian environment, I want to get that biblical integration, I want the intersection of faith and learning.’ So, regardless if you are working, whether you are married or divorced, or without children right now, if you feel a calling upon your life, I believe TIU-Florida is a great place for you.”
Mack freely shares with his students, “There’s nothing special about me…other than the fact that God has called me to do this. Other than that, I’m not intellectual, I’m not smarter, I will work hard. And that’s why I say, ‘Hey, if you’re willing to work hard, you can also get through this.’ Completing your degree is more of a test of endurance than a test of intelligence.”
We asked Mack why there is such a huge need for mental health counselors today. “We know that we have an adversary—Satan loves to steal, kill and destroy, but we know we serve a powerful God who is causing the church to respond to mental health issues. I believe God is equipping students to walk people through anxiety, stress, depression, and whatever issues they may be having.”
Being a school counselor, middle school coach, and father of three, Mack has a heart for young people who need help and are waiting in line for counseling. “My heart is heavy for them. Just being able to know the struggles that they’re facing, and to know the journey that they need to take as adults, and especially living the faith…I feel the calling to stand in support of them…to come together as a community to support our students.”
We asked Dr. Mack: why should people choose Trinity Florida? What’s unique and special about this university?
Mack answered that question without hesitation, “It’s the integration of faith and learning that you’re going to find in an environment where you have professors who have walked the journey, that continue to take the journey of faith, knowing their Savior, Jesus Christ. Also, they are competent and qualified in their trade and in spending time to disciple these students and walk them through the process. When you walk into my classroom, you’re just not getting me as a professor, you’re getting me as a brother in Christ who will walk with you through this journey. That’s what I got as a student at TIU-Florida, and that’s what I hope I give to my current students now…support, structure, and accountability. It’s a very loving community.”
Mack is just one of Trinity Florida’s success stories. He’s practicing what he studied and giving back to the community in South Florida. He recognizes that adult learners today have a lot of different options and a busy life. When they contemplate pursuing an advanced degree, “I would say, ‘You know what? The next years of your life, you want to have a different direction, then I believe Trinity Florida can provide that direction, that support, that structure, to be able to help you accomplish the calling that God has upon your life. I believe that we have the faculty in this community who can provide that support. It may mean some sacrifice, but you don’t need to go it alone. If you have a calling upon your life to go into counseling, you want to be in a supportive community, and I believe that TIU-Florida is the place to provide that support and structure.’”
“When you walk into my classroom, you’re just not getting me as a professor, you’re getting me as a brother in Christ.”
1https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america | 2https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html | 3Ibid. | 4https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/view/what-s-needed-to-navigate-america-s-mental-health-care-crisis