Mental Health & Wellness (2)

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If you need assistance or immediate help for any kind of teen behavior, you can go to our HELP! page here on the site. And, in this post today, I’ve included the hotline number also. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

As YTH leaders we must be prepared to address mental health issues. Mental health is not a single issue problem. It is comprehensive. When dealing with teenagers with mental health issues we must use a variety of ways to help them through the difficulties of mental health maturity.

Did you catch that? Mental health growth.

A Working Definition

Let’s deal with one aspect of mental health. Depression.

I have compiled a definition of Depression with several sources, including Webster’s Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary, Greek Lexicon, and the Urban Dictionary. Here is the compilation definition of depression:

“It can be seen as a severe dejection, sadness, and despondency. It creates isolation, confusion, and fear. It generally is considered long-term, but, it can come and go at severe levels for a short period of time also.”

One thing is clear. That when we find people who are showing the signs of depression, we must act directly. See the previous blog on 4 approaches to depression in teenagers that YTH leaders can take Whether that looks like social, relational, spiritual, physical, nutritional, or clinical help, whatever kind of path we take it will no doubt include all or some of these approaches to mature in adolescent mental health.

Triggers & Signs of Depression or Mental Health Issues

There are many triggers to poor mental health.

It could be a chemical imbalance, family history, pervasive influence of Social Media comparisons, the gaming role-play violence, Madison Avenue marketing, PTSD, or even the break-up of the family system. Whatever the cause of poor mental health, the reality is that we have seen a rise in depression, and, ultimately, suicide in the Millennial and the Gen Z set. And that requires a response from YTH leaders.

These triggers will be seen in varying degrees. And some people will exhibit some or a combination of these - If they show signs at all. I have learned that observation is a full time job because many teenagers have conditioned themselves to cope with (or hide) these signs. So it will be important to look for coping mechanisms such as denial, isolation, or mood swings.

Like the triggers, there are many signs of poor mental health.

As a YTH Leader, here are just a few things you should be looking for to identify students who are struggling with depression:

  • Poor academic performance in school

  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and activities

  • Sadness and hopelessness

  • Lack of enthusiasm, energy, or motivation

  • Anger and rage and aggressiveness

  • Overreaction to criticism

  • Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals

  • Poor self-esteem, cutting, or bodily harm

  • Indecision or lack of concentration and forgetfulness

  • Changes in eating or sleeping or behavioral patterns

  • Substance abuse

  • Problems with the family, or community, or authority

  • And ultimately suicidal thoughts or actions

As YTH leaders, when we see triggers or these signs of depressive behavior in young people, how can we counter the mental health issues? How do we recognize these, and other contributing issues, at center stage of the destruction of teenage self-esteem and mental health? After all, the teen years should be the greatest days of a teenagers life.

Make sure that you encourage teens to ask for help. They need to know that all of us have an issue. All of us have something that we would like to change. All of us have something that we would rather not share with people. But that is dangerous. Every one of us should have somebody that we can talk to honestly. If you are seeing depression in students, try using these preventative actions. You may be able to curb the downhill spiral if you catch it quickly.

In the last post we gave you 4 approaches that will help you deal with poor mental health in teenagers. Please see that blog for additional help.

Creating a Series

Finally, here is a quick outline for creating a YTH series that will help you address the mental health topic:

Text - Psalm 31.7-14, Ephesians 2, Genesis 1-5, Romans 8:38-39, 2 Corinthians 13.11

We are trying to establish a scriptural way of thinking about ourselves with these texts. These texts will bring balance to our thinking and understanding of who we are.

*Psalm 31 shows the contrast of the evil and the good in our lives and that God does not leave us alone

*Ephesians 2 is the identity chapter and how God sees us

*Genesis 1-5 detail our creation and how we are created in His image

*Romans 8.38-39 speaks of the power of God to keep us no matter the power against us

*2 Corinthians 13 is all about the commitment that we must have toward each other

Week 1 (Worth)

-Defining to the students Mental Health, Depression, and Anxiety

-Defining to the students God’s creation of mankind (Genesis 1-5)

-Identity formation and our purpose from scripture versus culture (Ephesians 2)

Week 2 (Words)

-The power of words to be both positive and negative

-The value of having the right people speaking into our lives

-Showing the students that it hardship and difficulty is normal and that everyone experiences it (Psalm 31)

Week 3 (Wellness)

-This emphasis is about holistic health and getting students to see total wellness

-Emotional, Physical, Social/Relational, and Spiritual awareness (Romans 8:38-39)

-We are beings with a body and a soul and a mind. This is important for the students to understand that all of these parts of us come together to form our development.

Week 4 (We)

-We all need someone to talk to. Community is critical for processing and accountability. (2 Corinthians 13)

-Creating larger circles and tribes and squads in the YTH group

-Expanding beyond your friend group

-Mixing into small groups by assigning the students into groups with the leaders to talk about the signs

Finally

Ultimately, we must understand that some of these healing approaches will come to a dead end. And that is okay. There is no failure in exhausting options of healing. But in this case, it is important to understand that there is still another step in dealing with Mental Health issues. Sometimes the best thing we can do is referral to a clinician. The easiest way to do this is to speak with the Lead Pastor of a local church and to get referrals. If that does not work, the Hotline will give you help in your local area.

Here are my recommendations for referral:

Google a local Christian counselor

Seek help at the school where the young person attends

Offer continuing help and proximity during the referral period

Suicide Hotline Number - 1.800.273.8255 (suicide hotline)

Thank you for sharing this post with someone who may need it.

Jeff Grenell