Mental Health Month was established way back in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives. Mental health refers to one’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. Our mental health is influenced by our life experiences, based on our mind and body’s integrated response to stimuli. How we interpret things can impact the way we think, feel, and behave.
Mental illness encompasses a wide range of disorders often caused by genes or brain chemistry. This includes mood disorders, personality disorders, behavioral disorders, and much more. Common problems for teenagers include anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, addictions, body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria. If you aren’t personally struggling with one of these issues yourself, then you probably know someone who is.
There are many factors affecting adolescent mental health, as students often feel overworked and stressed. Youth with poor mental health may struggle with school and grades, decision making, and even their physical health. According to a recent study conducted by the CDC, 45% of high school students were so persistently sad or hopeless that they stopped engaging in their usual activities.
The current mental health crisis plaguing students across the country is one of the leading causes of illness, disability, and death among adolescents. The human heart longs to be deeply loved, accepted, and understood. It’s no different for teens, and maybe even more so for them. Heartbreak, loss, fear, anger, frustration… sometimes life is hard. And there’s nothing worse than feeling like you have no hope for the future.
To help resolve such feelings, mental health issues like these require attentive listening and compassion from people who care. Moreover, powerful Biblical truths that have encouraged Christians for centuries still ring true for us today. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for harm, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Through the ages, people have experienced suffering whether mentally, emotionally, or physically. Even Jesus himself cried out in despair on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Jesus models to us that it’s never wrong to cry out to God. Part of living mentally healthy lives is turning to Jesus, knowing that he feels our pain. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Jesus himself said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Axis.org is a is a non-denominational ministry that aims to connect parents, teens, and Jesus in a disconnected world. They have developed a series of Mental Health Conversation Kits, with topical videos and discussion guides designed for parents and teens to watch and work through together. These family-friendly videos weave biblical principles with cultural references to provide an engaging experience that is relevant to teens and trusted by parents.
Axis also created a Parent’s Guide to Teen Emotions that is FREE to download.