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Support the Mental Health of Your Ministry’s Youth

While mental health is talked about more as adults, youth are often among those who are dealing with the challenges of mental and emotional issues. It is common for youth to mistakenly feel that they must be doing something wrong if they experience mental or emotional distress. As members of the church, it is important for clergy to be aware of the signs of mental health issues and be better prepared to counsel children and youth who may be dealing with these very real problems.

Common Youth Mental Health Conditions

Children who are dealing with a mental health challenge need specific support, as do their families. Before a child is diagnosed with a mental health condition, there are usually warning signs. Parents and clergy should be aware of the following mental health conditions that commonly affect children:

Child Anxiety - Child anxiety, like all mental health conditions, can be triggered by a number of different things. A child with anxiety may worry excessively about everyday things or experience sudden bursts of fear for no reason.
Child Depression - A child with depression may have a hard time focusing, seem apathetic or tired most of the time and withdraw from activities they used to enjoy. They can also exhibit feelings of worthlessness.
Child Trauma - A child who has experienced trauma may be withdrawn, not want to participate in activities or play with friends, and have trouble sleeping. They can be triggered by certain events or people, and may also exhibit anxiety.


Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions that coaches have about the mental health of their young athletes. If you're still unsure about how to best support players on your teams, please don't hesitate to contact us for more information.

Q: How Can I Tell if a Child Is Struggling With Mental Health Issues?
A: There is no one answer to this question, as mental health challenges can look different in each child. However, there are some common signs that may indicate a child is struggling, such as changes in eating or sleeping habits, withdrawing from friends and activities, exhibiting violent or self-harmful behavior, or appearing extremely sad for long periods of time.

Q: What Should I Do if I Think a Child Is Struggling?
A: The first thing you should do is talk to the child's parents. Let them know that something seems different about their child, and ask if they have noticed any mental health changes as well. It may be helpful for clergy members to offer services or resources available through South Coast Community Services in order to help address mental health concerns together with families.

Q: How Do I Talk to a Child About Mental Health?
A: This is another difficult question, as every child is different and will need a different level of support. However, it is important that clergy members be open and honest when discussing mental health with children. It's ok to let them know that you're not an expert on the topic, but that you're there to help them in whatever way you can. You may also want to encourage the child to talk to a mental health professional if they are feeling overwhelmed or like they can't cope.

Youth mental health is an important topic for all members of the community, including clergy. If you have any questions about mental health or how to best support children who may be struggling with mental and emotional issues, please don't hesitate to contact us at South Coast Community Services today!