This Great Idea is more a compilation of resources than a specific outline or plan – but with deep gratitude to all those who write up these resources and those who will use them in care of the well-being of our young people!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
It’s an especially good time to consider the mental well-being of the young people we serve.
A major contributor to the increase in teen mental health issues is a sense of despair – and nowhere to go with it, nowhere to process it, no way to let it out, look at it, and do something with it.
Lamentation is essential for those who see reality and grieve over what is, what is wrong, and what seems impossible.
- Ugandan theologian Emmanuel Katongole and peacemaker Chris Rice reflect on the biblical re-echoing of “generations of all who suffer and ask, ‘How long, O Lord?'” in A Cry to God.
- Talitha Amadea Aho’s, In Deep Waters: Spiritual Care for Young People in a Climate Crisis (Augsburg Fortress), ‘will help you keep young people at the center of your community and listen to the troubles they have to share’ as it shows you ‘how to offer ecologically informed spiritual care’.
Throughout Lent the Center for Youth Ministry Training featured articles on helping teens lament – an essential spiritual practice and tool to bolster teen spiritual growth and mental health in a time of crisis on both fronts.
- Helping Teens Lament by Dietrich Kirk
- The Power of Lament in Adolescent Spirituality by Dr. Andrew Zirschky
- A Prayer for the Broken-Hearted by Rev. Casey Orr
The above three resources offer specific liturgical elements you might use in teen gatherings or, (even better!) regular multigenerational worship so the entire congregation can join in expressing grief – and youth can see lament embraced and modeled as healthy and faithful.
On the topic of teen mental health, see also the more recent:
- Social Media and the Anxiety Pandemic by Dr. David White
- Anxiety and Spiritual Practice in Youth Ministry by Kate Orr
And from early this year:
- How Parents Can Support Teen Mental Health by Toria Herd & Sarah A. Font (Yes! Magazine)
Reading through any or all of these articles will hopefully inform, inspire, and empower leaders to take steps toward developing ministries with mental health as a key foci.