AGAPE Mental Health and Research Institute (AMHRI) is a Christian ministry devoted to the counseling of individuals, to demonstrate unconditional love and help them regain emotional health. Many have been saved from the brink of divorce, suicide and other emotional issue.
The mental health situation in India is a field ready for harvest. The church has an excellent track record for pioneering efforts in the field of medicine and education in the past century. Now the time has come for the church to take on mental health issues. As long as there is Christian presence, India should not lack witness to AGAPE, the unconditional love of Christ.
Kerala - The Great Paradox2003
Ut perspiciatis unde omnis occaecati cupiditate non provident
From the reports presented during the Kerala State Assembly in 2002 the State topped all others in suicide rate. Among the 9836 people who took their own lives were 7205 men, 2400 unemployed persons and 305 students.
Kerala is not far behind the US in single parenting. Due to migrations of men seeking job away from home, children have been growing up without being able to see the role models of the father. Wives are forced to manage the house without the help of the husbands and head of the house. This state also tops with the highest divorce rate. Kerala has the highest number of alcohol users (of whom 25% are addicts)
The Malayala Manorama Daily (Dec 8 2003) has brought to the awareness of the general public the recent World Bank warning that geriatric care would be one of the major problems of Kerala immediately and the whole of India in the next 20 years. The irony is that Kerala boasts to have the highest literacy rate and medical facilities on par with developed countries.
Here are some other related facts about Kerala:
Large emigration 6 million people out of 8 million families working abroad
Large middle class increased competition
Addiction 3 times national average
Divorce rates rapidly increasing
Mental health 3% of Indian population (residing in Kerala) consumes 25% of mental health related medications
Learning difficulties and depression rapidly on the rise
Suicide rates Nations highest, 3 times national average.
Fear, pain, insecurity, anxiety, futility of life and despair have caused men and women to be victims of neurosis so much so that an estimated 1/5 of the society is in the grip of emotional and behavioural problems. Cases of psychiatric illnesses, stress and anxiety effects, substance abuse and deteriorating families have reached frightening proportions.
India is indeed a world of the lost and the lonely. It is among these that AGAPE Mental Health and Research Institute set out to make its mark.
Gone are the days when the community attached a stigma to mental health establishments and psychiatrists. People now more readily come forward to receive help for the problems of the "psyche". Despite the proliferation of the awareness and acceptance by the public of the need for mental health, the church is yet to catch up on this vital area. Ironically, in the beginning of the modern missionary era, it was the church that pioneered the field of medicine and health the world over and especially in India.
Merspiciatis unde omnis occaecati cupiditate non provident
Mr. Jacob sat shell-shocked as Ruben poured out the jolting story of sexual abuse by a grown up neighbour when he was a child. Ruben underwent what Jacob was later to call "reverse aggression" and got addicted to pornography. By the age of 15 he had secual relations with more than 3 women. Paradoxically Ruben was a genuine Christian who honestly wanted to change but could not do so. Jacob, who then was a student, found that there were crises in life that could not be handled by mere spiritual guidance. Many of Jacobs classmates and colleagues were under immense anxiety and guilt in the soul and were hurting inside though they put up a bold face outside. Many of them, consequently were given to substance addiction and somatic disorders.
As Jacob prayed over the situation he felt the Lords call to devote his life to help those in emotional need. Realizing the necessity of the study on human behavior at a greater depth, Jacob got trained in the disciplines of psychology and counseling. In due course he started his own counseling practice.
The visionary in Jacob was not comfortable just to be a counselor when the need outside was immense. He realized that mental health should be a mission of the church and believers. A three-fold vision was becoming clear and sharp.
Stimulate the church and believers to be involved in mental health issues
Facilitate starting of a series of mental health centers across India
Encourage professionals in mental health to make use of the profesion as an opportunity for sharing Christs love.
Jacob shared this vision with believers in nearby Brethren assemblies and in different parts of the country and a few of them joined to form a non-profit charitable society, in 1992, called AGAPE Mental Health and Research Institute with its registered office in the town of Patahanamthitta. The AGAPE society has more than three dozen general body members and 13 members in its executive board. The Stewards Association board.The Stewards Association of India - the property manager for Indian Brethren Assemblies, holds all the immovable properties of AGAPE. AGAPE began operation in 1993 by opening its outpatient-counseling centre in Pathanamthitta town.The inpatient facilitiy, the AGAPE renewal center, was opened at the AGAPE mount, 3 miles north east of the Pathanamthitta town in 1998.
Natus quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio