Citrus College students enrolled in a Psychology of Religion class will celebrate Mental Health Month on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. with a program that features special speakers who will address the significance of the mind, body and spirit connection.
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Citrus College students enrolled in a Psychology of Religion class will celebrate Mental Health Month on Wednesday, May 19 at 1:30 p.m. with a program that features special speakers who will address the significance of the mind, body and spirit connection. The students will also take part in an exercise to promote peace and religious tolerance by releasing white doves in the center of campus near the college’s fountain.
During Mental Health Month, the Psychology of Religion class is joining with an organization called Mental Health America to make people more aware of those who suffer with mental illness,” said Citrus College instructor Dr. Jim Skalicky. “Mental Health America believes, along with so many faith communities, that a mind, body and spirit connection for well being and good health is inseparable. It seems to me that healthy religion and good psychology are both focused on improving the human spirit.”
Speakers for the event include Citrus College counselor Steve Avalos and Dr. Mark Dederichs, chiropractor.
The Psychology of Religion class, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary at Citrus College, is believed to be the only class of its kind on a community college campus.
“The class teaches what psychology and religion understand as part of the human experience,” Dr. Skalicky explained. “For example, we explore the value of having an active hope as students move toward developing their potential. Of course it is often said that we as teachers teach what we need to learn, and so for me it is also a journey and a quest for deeper appreciation and understanding of our spiritual nature. “
The class is not a comparative religion class. However, it looks for the psychology in the various wisdom traditions and finds similarities in the world’s religions for dealing with life’s challenges.
The class has field trips to many spiritual locations including the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, Los Angeles ; His Lai Buddhist Temple, Hacienda Heights; the Hindu Temple Riverside; Saint John’s Orthodox Church, Covina; the Islamic Center, Covina; and Temple Beth Israel, Pomona
Dr. Skalicky said that current events energize the content of the class and underscore the relevance of the subjects being discussed.
“Hardly a week goes by without some related religious issues presented in the news,” he said. “Without understanding the psychological nature of religion, issues in the Middle East are very difficult to comprehend. Clearly terrorist attacks have psychological implications in trying to understand what type of person is willing to die for their faith while killing so many others who are not of their faith.”
Having his students release white doves on May 19 is a way for Dr. Skalicky to symbolically drive home his main teaching point.
“There is a need for all religions to celebrate their commonalities and for believers of all faiths to reason together,” he said. “From the earliest groups of people, human beings have shown their uniqueness in developing communities of worship with different rituals and stories all pointing to some force greater than our own. The craving for spirituality, happiness and well being seems to be innate and universal.”
Tying this theme into Mental Health Month, Dr. Skalicky said of his class and of his field, “Psychology and religion can be and are healing forces.”
Dr. Skalicky holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University and a doctorate from Kansas State University. He began teaching at Citrus part-time in 1979 and became a full-time instructor in 1988. He has a private practice in Glendora and serves as chairman of the board of Mental Health America, an organization he has worked with since 2002.