Investing in Our Youth

“Anxiety, Depression and the American Adolescent,” a piece in the November 7 edition of Time magazine by Susanna Schrobsdorff, reveals some alarming statistics about the mental health and emotional well-being of our nation’s young people.

  • Three million adolescents ages 12 to 17 in the United States who had at least one depressive episode in the past year. 12.5% of our teenagers have experienced deep depression.
  • Girls are far more likely to experience depression: girls 19.5% and boys 5.8%.
  • Three million teens ages 13 to 18 have had an anxiety disorder. That number represents 25% of the population in that age group.
  • Boys are more likely to be anxious than depressed: 20.3% of the population.
  • Self-harm is the signature symptom of this generation’s mental health challenges. While girls are more likely to “cut,” boys are not immune. 30 to 40% of those who’ve ever self-injured are male.
  • The author of the article quotes Fadi Haddad, author of the book Helping Kids in Crisis.
    • Talk about the real stuff….ask teenagers…”what’s the best part of your day and why?”
    • Pay attention, but don’t smother
    • Resist getting angry with your teenager because they are struggling
    • Don’t put off getting help
    • Treat the whole family and not just the teenager

From Pastor Jeff…obviously, this article is not faith based. But, it behooves me to say, as a reminder, that the single most important thing we can do as a faith community is to invest in our youth. The teenager who has an adult who genuinely cares about them and prays for them is a youth who is more likely to thrive and not just survive. Jay Robinson has done this with our son Luke. Luke worked for Jay all through high school and now when he is home from college. When I ask Luke who has had the greatest impact on him, he always comes back to Jay. There are others as well but Jay has been that consistent voice of wisdom and acceptance. The question for each of us is…in whom are we going to invest?

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