May 18, 2021

Mental Health Awareness Effort Will Help Young People Address Challenges

Mylon Medley, North American Division News

Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the North American Division (NAD) recently released a comprehensive digital resource to educate young people about mental health and offer encouragement and community for those seeking help.

OneTeam Mental Health is a website with information on depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and wellness. In addition, sermons from the ministry’s weekly online Saturday (Sabbath) services are available on the site to show how lessons from the Bible can help provide encouragement during challenging times.

The announcement comes during Mental Health Awareness Month, which has been observed each May in the United States since it was first introduced by Mental Health America in 1949. From May 1 to 31, numerous mental health organizations and advocates are sharing information on removing stigma, recognizing symptoms, and providing resources for treatment and management.

“Teens are not shy about admitting they have challenges and are dealing with suicidal thoughts, depression, and anxiety,” Vandeon Griffin, associate director of NAD Youth and Young Adult Ministries, said. “They are asking, ‘How do I deal with it? Where do I seek help?’

“In most cases, older generations see it as taboo, only offer to pray, and tend to discourage seeking support and professional help. Teens want to get help professionally while they are praying spiritually.”

According to the American Medical Association, one in six youth ages 6 to 17 experience a mental health disorder each year. Further, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75 percent by age 24. And suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34.

“The idea was initially sparked after having conversations with conference youth leaders, who asked if our office had any materials on mental health for teens,” Griffin said. “In 2019, an additional request came from a layperson who asked for material to help their child, who was having some mental challenges. I replied, ‘I don’t have anything, but I will get something,’ This birthed the process of getting a team of experts together to help produce an easy-to-use resource for leaders and students. Something that was not dense but thorough for people to use.”

Griffin tapped Rachel Scribner, a media professional and youth leader in Washington State, to direct the effort of producing the resource. The result was a simple, data-driven booklet series on topics including mental health disorders and recovery. Griffin also reached out to Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference and NAD to begin a collaborative process of creating more resources to meet the tremendous needs.

“The health ministries work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has always been about preserving the best possible health of our minds, as well as of the body and spirit,” Angeline Brauer, director of NAD Health Ministries, said. “This includes our long history of educating on nutrition and physical activity.

“Today, with the groundswell of cries to specifically address mental health and illness, the OneTeam Mental Health package is an immense asset. The NAD Health Ministries department wholeheartedly supports this work of the Youth and Young Adult Ministries.”

The original version of this story was posted on the North American Division news site.