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Mental Health Matters

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by Caroline Oas, youth pastor and counselor

Parents, and those who work with teenagers, I have a question. What’s scarier: a horror movie or a hormonal teenager? It’s a tough call sometimes! We can all agree that middle schoolers and high schoolers often struggle with their emotions. We can chalk it up to “hormones” or “moodiness,” but the truth is, these emotions aren’t to be ignored. 
According to the Polaris Teen Center, approximately one in five teens suffers from at least one diagnosable mental health disorder. The most common diagnoses among teenagers are depression and anxiety, but our young people are also at the age where they’re susceptible to eating disorders, personality disorders, substance-abuse disorders and more. 
In recent years, the conversation has grown surrounding the mental health of our young people today. Teens are more open to talking about it. It’s on the news and on social media. It’s discussed in current movies and TV shows. But how do we start the conversation at home? Is it a conversation worth having? 
Here’s the somewhat unsettling truth: 50 percent of mental health issues are established by the age of 14, and 75 percent are established by age 24.
This is a conversation to have not tomorrow, but today.
Having this conversation today is important because even if your child is not struggling, giving helpful coping tools and being open to talking about mental health will open up avenues for future conversation when kids might struggle or someone they know is struggling.
I would invite you to join me on Thursday, April 2, for a discussion about teen mental health. We’ll talk about how to read the warning signs of depression and anxiety among other mental health diagnoses, how to respond, and simple coping exercises that you can use and teach with your children. We’ll also discuss where a relationship with Christ and your church family comes into play when caring for your mental health. 
But for now, I’ll leave you with a small coping strategy to utilize if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or anxious. It’s known as a “grounding exercise,” and it helps ground you in the present moment.
Sit in a comfortable position with both feet on the floor and your shoulders relaxed. Take three deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Next, look around the room and note to yourself five things you can see. Then, note four things you can touch and how they feel. Then, three things you can hear. Next, two things you can smell. Finally, if applicable, one thing you can taste.
Take three more deep breaths. After this exercise, you will be able to collect your thoughts and process what’s making you feel anxious. Repeat as many times as necessary. 
Again, I invite you to join me on Thursday, April 2, for this important discussion!
In Christ,
Caroline Oas

About Caroline Oas


Caroline Oas

Caroline Oas

Caroline is a Counselor and Youth Director at North Cross United Methodist Church.
She has a strong passion for helping young people become spiritually and emotionally whole and ask the tough questions.
She’s a wife, dog mom to Winnie, Dunkin Donuts enthusiast and follower of Jesus. 

 

 

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