I really like this thread. I think it is helping us not only understand the complexity of the difficult issues, but is helping us find a way forward (or maybe it is just me.).
Over at my class on screening for missions, we have been working on the process of identifying behavior-specific job characteristics that do not rise to the level of pathology. In other words, we are trying to identify in missionary life specific relational or emotional behaviors that may affect the work. Then we can look for and screen for these behaviors.
Screening for Everyday Resilience vs. Clinical Depression
For example, let’s talk about depression… First, evidence of, or history of, true clinical depression is a protected category as a disability, and we would not be looking for clinical depression in the screening. You also have to consider that we have taken the word “depression” and expanded it far beyond its specific mental illness definition. We use it quite inappropriately. “I am so tired and depressed. I didn’t sleep well last night!” “When you focus on the news, you are making me depressed!” “What a crabby expression. Are you depressed?” It seems like everything that makes us less happy automatically makes us depressed. And, of course, that is not true clinical depression.
Much of “depression” occurs to everyone in daily life and is not a clinical diagnosis. For example, in our everyday life and work, stuff happens, and we get stressed, frustrated, worried, or disappointed. We cry, get mad, sleep, or withdraw, etc. All of those states are precursors to depression, but they do not guarantee depression is coming. They are life.
All those reactions and states are also measurable things in our interpersonal and work arenas. We can measure them outside of the clinical measurement, and people’s ability to manage these life issues predicts how they might do in future situations—in other words, their job performance.
Added to that, there are a number of spiritual activities that facilitate good, resilient behavior and also protect someone against future issues like depression. We can measure these too.
The Result: A Better Screening Process
So now we have a way to measure people’s “potential” for good, effective, resilient behavior, which is also grounded in spiritual practice and behavior and is completely separate from any disability issues. My class and I call these developing domains “the famous slide 7.” (Slide 7 means that the first time I developed the list, it was slide 7 on that month’s Power Point.)
The strength of this approach, in my opinion, is that we can actually do a lot of important screening that is not taking the proscribed pathological approach. We can clearly define what makes an effective and spiritually resilient missionary in terms of normal behavior. We can find measurement tools and processes to measure that effective behavior and use those tools to identify qualified people.
Your thoughts? Am I and my class on the right track?
Featured Image: ”Unnamed" by Pete Hardie on Unsplash.
Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion
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