Staggering Suicide Statistics

Suicide is not a topic we all like to talk about. But recent incidents have brought more attention to this unfortunate event that's often linked to severe depression. At Divine Mercy University, we strive to educate our students and the general public of ways to prevent suicide and provide adequate mental health services. Recently, we hosted an on-campus lecture entitled "How to Understand Suicide and its Aftermath: From a Scientific & Faith Perspective," presented by Melinda Moore, Ph.D., a Licensed Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Eastern Kentucky University. Her interest in Posttraumatic Growth emerged from her own experience with suicide and the changes that experience created within her allowing for her current career path and personal interests and relationships. Watch the recording of the suicide lecture to learn how a faith-based approach to mental disorders can help save lives. We also wanted to share suicide prevention resources with you, in the case that you or someone you know may need help:
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
In our psychology and counseling programs, we teach students how to act effectively in situations where de-escalation, negotiation, and crisis intervention are needed, such as suicide attempts. The courses also train students on the best ways to diagnose and treat common psychological problems to prevent severe disorders from developing. Sign up to learn more.

Spiritual Direction is For You

Spiritual Direction is a practice becoming more popular in the Church today as people seek to know the voice of God with clarity. And with its popularity comes the question: “what is spiritual direction?”. It is first important to clarify that spiritual direction isn't only for clerics, religious or the super-pious - it is for every baptized person who wants someone to help guide them on their journey of following God’s will. That’s what spiritual direction is; “...a relationship through which we come to better know, love, and follow Christ through the help of a kind of spiritual coach. It is a process through which we come to know and love Christ and ultimately experience the heights of spiritual union with Him, even in this life.” Navigating the Interior Life, Burke. When addressing the laity, St. John Paul II wrote in Christifideles Laici that the fundamental objective of their formation is the ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission.”  Everyone has a calling, a mission in life. Today there are coaches for everything: personal life and relationships, finances, investment portfolios, health and fitness goals, even organization, and wardrobe, so the question is why not have a coach to help with spiritual life? Spiritual Direction involves a relationship where both parties work together to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the follow those promptings in a concrete, daily manner. The task of choosing a spiritual director is therefore not an easy one and not something to be taken lightly. It’s important to take into account the director’s qualities, spirituality and if there is personal compatibility. Not to mention the fact that those who are spiritual directors are quite busy and could be hard to find!  Another thing to keep in mind when deciding to begin a spiritual direction relationship is the difference between counseling and spiritual direction. The difference can be seen analogously as going to see a doctor and getting a fitness coach. The two work together for total health but in different ways and for different periods of time. The doctor makes sure everything is working fine or helps with an illness, and the fitness coach will work consistently for specific results in physical fitness and capacity. Knowing what one needs and is looking for is important, and of course, it's ok to need both! The new Spiritual Direction Certificate Program (SDC) offered through Divine Mercy University seeks to respond to the ongoing need for the followers of Jesus Christ to assist one another on their path of becoming ever more faithful disciples of the Lord. The goal of the SDC program is to prepare candidates with the requisite dispositions, knowledge of the theological and human sciences, interactions skills, and supervision tools that will enable them to be spiritual directors with the heart and mind of Jesus Christ and in the tradition of the Church’s tried experience. The program is open to all - priests, religious, laity, consecrated - who are eager to deepen in the tradition and practice of the spiritual life and spiritual direction. For more information on the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program visit: www.sdc-divinemercy.org.

IPS Center Expansion

Throughout this past year, The IPS Center for Psychological Services continued to provide the community with high quality, affordable mental health services that understand the emotional, biological, social, spiritual and psychological aspects of a person. During the 2017-18 academic year, 13 clinical externs served more than 70 clients, with over 70% being new clients, which is considerably larger than previous years. With the growth of the IPS Center, new staff and clinical supervisors have been added to support the doctoral students. Dr. Ana Buenaventura and Dr. Jeanne Piette are overseeing the clinic and the clinical training of the doctoral students. During the 2018-19 academic year, which is just beginning, 20 total externs (8 of whom only started last week) are seeing about 35 clients currently in the clinic. As the need continues to be present in the local community, the IPS Center serves as a resource for many who look for mental health services. The transition to DMU’s new, permanent campus will take place over the summer of 2019, the IPS Center will open it’s new doors in Sterling, VA in August of 2019.

New IPS Center Staff

Dr. Jeanne Piette, new Co- Director of the IPS Clinic, completed her Ph.D. and M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Loyola University Chicago and her B.A. in Psychology at Marquette University. She completed her predoctoral internship at Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Dr. Piette has worked as a clinician, supervisor and administrator in a wide variety of clinical settings. Dr. Helena Orellana, new Associate IPS Clinic Director, received her doctoral degree from the Institute for Psychological Sciences in 2017. She completed an APA accredited pre-doctoral internship through the Nebraska Internship Consortium in Professional Psychology, where she pursued a dual focus in adult group therapy and individual therapy for adults who experienced chronic childhood abuse. Dr. Orellana completed an APA accredited post-doctoral residency at the Togus VA in Maine.

Managing Holiday Anxiety

By Jessie Tappel, LCPC, Director of Communications, Divine Mercy University The holidays are an exciting time of good cheer, warm family traditions, and spending time with friends. Or, are they? For many people, the idea of attending large family gatherings, numerous holiday parties, traveling to or from home can produce anxiety and stress. In fact, anxiety and depression are very common during the holiday season. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), three out of four people surveyed reported feeling anxious and/or depressed during the holiday season. The American Psychological Association also notes that the added stress of the holidays will increase a women’s reliance on unhealthy behaviors more often than men, placing them more at risk for effects of stress, both physically and mentally. Juggling work and added family responsibilities, such as planning for holiday gatherings, shopping for gifts and cooking, leave most women feeling like they can’t take time to relax during the crunch to get everything done. Where does this pressure come from? We might think of the holidays as a magical time, one of rest and relaxation and filled with joy and gratitude for all that we have. Hollywood paints a picture of what our holidays should look like, and there is undue pressure for our holidays to look like a scene out of a 1950’s sitcom. Is this ever the reality?  Nostalgia returns with every commercial of fireplaces, warm food, snow falling, and opening presents on Christmas morning. We long for the day when we can return to the idyllic picture of no responsibility and the proposed meaning of relaxation. How is it possible to relax and enjoy the holidays when they are the busiest and oftentimes most stressful time of the year? The holidays are a time that uncover memories of the past year or force reflection on the year’s accomplishments and events, either positive or negative. We self-evaluate how we did compared to those around us. Did we reach our goals or fail yet again to complete that pesky New Year’s resolution? The perceived societal pressures that naturally form throughout the holiday season can amplify these memories and expectations for the future. The unrealistic expectations that are placed on oneself can induce a greater anxiety during these times. Comparing your life to those around you can be an additional, unnecessary stressor that leads to unrealistic expectations for you and your family. It is important to remember that everyone faces challenges throughout the holidays, in varying forms, sizes, and intensity. This time of year is not all about carving turkeys, peppermint mochas and spiced candles. It is easy to feel pulled in many directions over the holidays. Trying to set healthy boundaries in order to reduce stress and exhaustion can be difficult. It is important not to be focused on what the holidays are supposed to be like and how you are supposed to feel. What is the true meaning of the holidays? If you are comparing your experience to a greeting card ideal, you will fall short every time. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Remembering your limits is important. It is impossible to control everything that will happen these next months. Separating what events are in and out of your control is helpful in reducing anxiety and undue pressure to perform to a self-imposed standard.   Keeping in mind the reason for the holidays will refocus the concern and anxiety that you may feel. “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Anxiety and worry place the focus on the wrong issues and causes us to lose sight of the reason for which the holidays exist. Peace of mind is something that everyone desires. We all want to be able to rest and enjoy life, family, friends, and work and not get caught up in the drama of the season.   Busyness breeds distraction. It is important that we focus on what the meaning of the season is rather than all the details that provoke anxiety. In the Gospel of Luke, the story of Mary and Martha gives an example of overcoming the self-imposed to-do list. Luke tells us that “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Who was telling her that the preparations had to be done? Jesus calls Martha to come and spend time with him and break away from the obligations she felt she had to do.   During this holiday season spend some time reflecting on what is truly important. Make a plan to overcome the stress and anxiety easily felt throughout these weeks and let us truly contemplate the words of the Gospel “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” (Luke 12:22)

Saints who Struggled with Mental Illness

On All Saints' Day, we wanted to share with you the profiles of four saints who are patrons of those who struggle with mental illness as a source of hope and intercession. 

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

St. Benedict Joseph Labre, “The Beggar of Rome”, was born in 1748 in Amettes, France.  As one of 18 children, he left home at a young age to study under his uncle to become a priest.  After several years of studying and not being accepted into an order, Labre left everything behind to devote himself to the Church, with special devotions to the Blessed Mother and the Blessed Sacrament.  Labre spent his life traveling from shrine to shrine through Europe relying only on the generosity of others. As a beggar he slept on the street and begged for sustenance. However, he was known to share what little he had with those around him.  In his 30’s Labre slept in the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome, until he died in 1783 at the young age of 35. St. Benedict Joseph Labre is the patron saint for those living with mental illness and the homeless.

Prayer to Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, you gave up honor, money, and home for love of Jesus. Help us to set our hearts on Jesus and not on the things of this world. You lived in obscurity among the poor in the streets. Enable us to see Jesus in our poor brothers and sisters and not judge by appearances. Make us realize that in helping them we are helping Jesus. Show us how to befriend them and not pass them by. Obtain for us the grace of persevering prayer, especially adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, poor in the eyes of men but rich in the eyes of God, pray for us. Amen  

Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna was an Irish girl with lived in the 7th century.  She was the daughter of a pagan king, Damon, and a Christian mother.  At a young age Dymphna devoted herself to Christ and took a vow of chastity.  When her mother died, her father, who’s mental illness with progressively getting worse, looked for a new bride that looked like his late wife.  After not finding a woman who bore his late wife’s resemblance, Damon became infatuated with his daughter Dymphna because of her resemblance. At the age of 14, Dymphna fled Ireland to escape her father and settled in Geel, Belgium where she opened a hospice and for the poor and sick.  After her father searched for and found her, he was enraged that she would not return home with him and beheaded her. To this day the town of Geel, Belgium has become a hub for those who are suffering from mental illness to seek refuge and healing. Saint Dymphna is the patroness of those who suffer from mental and nervous disorders.

Prayer to Saint Dymphna

Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need.  [Mention it.] Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request. [Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be.] Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.  

Saint Christina the Astonishing

Saint Christina the Astonishing was born in Brustem, Belgium in 1150.  In her early 20’s she suffered a seizure and was pronounced dead. During her funeral, she arouse from her coffin during the liturgy and was completely healed and full of vigor.  Saint Christina said that while she was dead she visited Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. She was given the option to stay in heaven or continue her life on earth as penance for the souls in Purgatory.  She spent the rest of her life performing acts of penance such as throwing herself into fire and rivers and living in poverty. She was imprisoned on two occasions for being a danger and being mentally ill.  She died of natural causes at the age of 74. She is a patron saint of those who live with mental illness.  

Prayer to Saint Christina the Astonishing

St. Christina, you lived a life of poverty and loneliness in the eyes of others.  But you knew that in the eyes of God, you were wealthy and has His love and the companionship of saints and angels.  Help us to see beyond the things of the world and to realize we are never alone. Pray that we remember to offer up our sufferings for those who do not see beyond the material and who are seeking love and fulfillment, that they may come to know God and realize that they are never alone. Saint Christina the Astonishing, pray for us.  

Venerable Matt Talbot

Matt Talbot was a man who lived in Ireland from 1856-1924.  He came from a family of heavy drinkers and at the young age of 13 was considered a hopeless alcoholic.  When Matt turned 28 he decided to take the pledge and commit to a life of sobriety. For the last forty years of his life Matt remained sober, finding strength in prayer, daily mass, and religious studies.  Matt was a hard worker working in the timber yard and choosing the most difficult jobs. After his death Matt was regarded for his piety and a bridge was named after him in Dublin. Although not yet canonized, he may be considered a patron for those suffering from alcoholism and addictions.  

Prayer to Venerable Matt Talbot

Lord, in your servant, Matt, Talbot, you have given us a wonderful example of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty, and of lifelong reverence for the Most Holy Sacrament.  May his life of prayer and penance give us the courage to take up our crosses and follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Father, if it be your will that your beloved servant should be glorified by your Church, make known by your heavenly favors that power he enjoys in your sight. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen. ---- Divine Mercy University offers psychology and counseling graduate-level degrees that help train students to become mental health professionals.
Request degree information today to help those who suffer from mental illness.
About DMU
Divine Mercy University (DMU) is a Catholic graduate university of psychology and counseling programs. It was founded in 1999 as the Institute for the Psychological Sciences. The university offers a Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology, Master of Science (M.S.) in Counseling, Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology, and Certificate Programs.