By The Rev. Tyler L. Montgomery
Chaplain and Assistant to the Headmaster for Student Wholeness
Woodberry Forest School (VA)
When one of our students has anxiety or depression, the solutions that independent schools often provide are counseling/therapy, drugs, or a combination of the two. This is a reasonable response if our lead question is “How do we care for sick students?” What would change if we shifted our central line of questioning to “Why are so many more children getting sick?” or perhaps more important, “Why do we get sick at all?”
Material problems require material solutions. For example, the solution for strep throat is antibiotics. It is also true that immaterial problems require immaterial solutions. For example, the solution for loneliness is connection. The material and immaterial parts of our being are wrapped together in one dynamic bundle, so it would be foolhardy to separate them, however, there seems to be a universal human tendency to focus on material solutions to anxiety and depression at the expense of their immaterial components. In the common mind/body/spirit triptych of the independent school world, the spirit is often a distant third place.
I am persuaded that the epidemic of anxiety and depression coursing through independent schools is…