Student Author(s)

In Hyuk Hwang

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown

Document Type


Event Date



The state of mental health in South Korea is very poor, where a flourishing mental health state is rare and a struggling one is the norm. This is true for a wide range of populations, but adolescents, specifically high school students in South Korea, very well may be most vulnerable. Suicide statistics in South Korea are the highest among Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, with statistics of students’ happiness ranking South Korea at the bottom of the world alongside third-world countries. Studies have identified alcohol abuse, peer pressure, competition at work and in education, and a warped sense of oneself and what is beautiful as some of the sources of this deprived mental state. In investigating this issue, the project takes an approach based on the Christian faith. A Christian understanding of the Fall and the redemptive work of Christ will provide new perspectives, both in understanding a deprived state of mental health, and in developing a model of mental health care that is in alignment with the teachings of Christ. Understanding mental health poverty as broken relationships with others, God, self, and the environment acknowledges that only Christ has the power to redeem and save. How could our model of mental health practices be influenced by a holistic understanding of the causes behind mental health poverty and by defining a completely healthy and flourishing state of mind as one that is in alignment with God’s vision of shalom and our purpose of giving Him praise? The project will systematically examine the causes of poverty of mental health as perceived by high school students in urban South Korea to inform the development of a model of mental health care specifically suited to that population.


This project was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts & Humanities at Hope College.