Mental Health Professionals Train Predisan Chaplains & Ministers

While providing spiritual guidance to people in need, our chaplains often encounter adults and children with serious mental health problems, the result of violence, addiction, trauma and the stress of living in poverty.
Our chaplains are not trained as mental health counselors. Yet there are only four psychologists in the area, leaving them limited options for referrals.
“Our staff are overwhelmed and in over their heads, and they know it,” says board member Linda King, who discussed the issue with the pastoral staff and community ministers in January of 2011. “We said, ‘How can we help?’, and they said, ‘Training!’” After a long search, Presidan is preparing to send three mental health professionals from the United States to Honduras. All three are Christian and speak Spanish.
“This fulfills a long-yearned-for need within Predisan and the community we serve,” Linda says. “This is an answer to prayers.”
The goals for the initial visit will be to assess needs and provide on-the-ground training. “Our staff are often the first responders,” Linda says. “They need to be trained to deal with serious mental health issues and to possibly make referrals to our clinic, where we can help those who are suffering get through the trauma.”
Meet the mental health professionals who are generously giving their time to train our staff and community ministers:
• Dr. Luke Smith is the son of medical missionaries and an Arkansas native. He serves as executive director and medical director of El Futuro, a nonprofit clinic for Spanish-speakers in North Carolina. He is board certified in adult and child psychiatry. His wife, a pediatrician, will accompany him to Honduras.
• Karla Siu grew up in Honduras, Tokyo and Virginia. She is a therapist and clinical director at El Futuro in North Carolina. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, her background includes work in community mental health and services to Latino domestic violence offenders. She also has expertise helping families and children recover from trauma.
Dr. Ryan Bluker, a psychologist in Oklahoma City, is completing his post-doctoral studies. His specialty is children’s mental health. Working closely with Dr. Amanda Madrid, he will conduct training in Honduras as part of his post-doctoral clinical work.
Dr. Smith and Ms. Siu will visit in early May. Dr. Bluker will visit over the summer.
“Perhaps nowhere does the holistic nature of Predisan’s ministry emerge more clearly than in the intersection of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health,” Linda says. “We are thrilled to see this mental health dimension of the dream begin to take shape.”
By deepening our expertise in mental health care, we can give more Hondurans a chance for a healthy, fulfilling, productive life.