And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. – Psalm 78:72
Mental health issues always pose a challenge to us. Confusion, heartache, isolation, pain, and relationship problems are only a few. When we find mental health challenges in teens and young adults, it presents a whole new set of issues.
Read below about some of the unique challenges and solutions that mental health issues pose in the teenager or young adult.
Learning and growing in our ability and passion to help those with unique challenges is always appropriate for the disciple. We want to better serve and help (just like Jesus) those in the minority, the young, the hurting, and those without the skills and experiences to help themselves.
Here are a few thoughts about helping teens in crisis:
1) Know the unique challenges of being a teenager or young adult. They are growing and changing almost daily. Their minds and hearts are developing in unique ways.
Some challenges of teenage development:
- A teen’s “job” is to form their identity and achieve independence
- There is plenty of brain development and egocentric thinking occurring
- Teens can be impulsive with black and white thinking
- Teens often take good risks (academic, sports, relationships) and bad risks (dangerous behavior). Emotional outbursts are common.
- Justice is important and they often make extreme conclusions from limited information.
Given this information, how do you think a teen or young adult might react during a crisis of mental health? What would be some normal expectations that may differ from those reactions of an adult? Check out this article on mental health in adolescents.
2) A few thoughts about helping teens and young adults with mental health challenges:
- Teach coping skills that allow them to lessen the impact of mental health problems.
- Encourage a routine in their lives.
- Help with mastery over their environment, including appropriate social media and Internet use.
- Be a great listener! Someone once said, “The #1 job of a parent is to keep their kids talking.” Listen and ask great questions that deepen your conversation. Be patient, loving, and compassionate as they work to verbalize what is going on inside of them.
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. – Luke 2:46
- Be truthful, answer questions appropriately for their age, and remember that in some ways, they are fragile and yet, quite resilient.
- In regards to inappropriate behavior, I remind kids that they are free to make any decision they want, but they are never free from the consequences of those choices. Support your teens and young adults’ good decisions and the consequences that come with those good decisions.
If you want to know more about the ways this new generation thinks, try this book out. I found it very useful as I work with teens and young adults.
The church setting is the the perfect place for recovery. Learn how to set up a Disciples In Motion weekend visit with Tim. It includes many different opportunities for mental health trainings in the church setting. Click here for more information.