One fascinating trend among teens, specifically high schoolers and college students, is that some of them are advocating for "mental health days." Nowadays, students are seemingly busier than ever with school, homework, sports, jobs, student government, church, extra circular activities, or some combination of these things. Some states have agreed to this, especially with the ongoing pandemic as suicide rates continue to rise among adolescents. One doctor is noted as saying, "Sick days are sick days, whether it's physical or mental."
Maryanne J. George's released a new single featuring Aaron Moses last week, and I've had it playing on repeat ever since. It's called Not Just Stories, and the song goes through some of the stories from the Gospels and reminds us that these are more than just stories. They're the truth that we should be living by - they're examples of what God can do. Sometimes we treat these stories as feel-good bedtime stories, but they're so much more than that.
One of stuffyoucanuse.org's most viewed games is called "Reverse Charades - Disney Movie Edition." The rules are pretty similar to normal charades except instead of one person trying to get everyone else to guess, everyone is acting out the movie for one person (or one per team). As the title indicates, all of the answers are going to be popular Disney movies such as Frozen, Cinderella, or Up. Whichever team's guesser gets the correct answer first, their team gets a point. Hopefully, this game will encourage everyone to get involved and, it can be done while maintaining social distancing if that is needed.
In Philippians 4, Paul is writing his final exhortations for the church in Philippi. Victor Frankl was a neurologist/psychologist who survived a prison camp in Holocaust. He wrote a book called "Man's Search For Meaning" where he discusses his insights of watching people going through similar experiences but with very different perspectives. His insights can be helpful to us today as he talked about unrealistic optimism hurting people while people who woke up with an approach to contribute and see the best in life, truly have better survival rates and faith in God. There's a lot to learn from Frankl's observations that connect to Paul's words in Philippians and approach in prison almost 1900 years. Two people can walk through the same day and one sees a life of discouraging, endless problems beyond their circumstances while another sees the presence of a God who is in control despite the circumstances being beyond their control. Let's continue to learn from the past to coach and inform others for a mentally healthier future!
Thanks for all you do as a Christian leader. Supporting people through tough times takes a lot of self-sacrifice and emotional energy. Mental health is a real struggle for many teens - it's not just something that they can "snap out of" or "get over." What's difficult about these sorts of struggles is that they are super difficult to identity. If you're struggling with mental health, whether it's anxiety, depression, eating disorder, OCD, or anything else, just know that you're not alone, even when it feels like it. God's with you in the midst of it, He'll be with you every step of the way, and He'll continue to be with you on the other side of it all. If someone you know is struggling, just be with them. Be a listening hear. Please, please, please do not try to fix their problems unless they are legitimately going to hurt themselves or someone else. Simply make yourself available for when they reach out. There's a couple of hotlines below that may be handy to add to your phone in case you might need them, whether it's for yourself or someone you know.
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline: 1-800-622-4357
National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663