Understand the common struggles of young people with mental health challenges, how to safely handle emergency situations and take proactive steps to keep ourselves and those involved in ministry healthy.
Prince of Peace, walk into my life today. I want to know You and have you as my Rock again. Help my heart to grow in understanding and compassion for all those struggling in their mental health, and give me wisdom for how to be healthy in my own. I love You. Amen
Mental health is not a topic we can address lightly. With one in five Australians suffering from a mental illness each year, we all know someone who this is a very personal subject for, whether it’s ourselves or someone close to us.
This may be a subject which is difficult or painful for you, so if you are feeling unusually stressed or upset as we learn about approaching mental health with wisdom, please take care of yourself! Have a break, chat with your mentor or small group, spend some time in prayer. If you feel like this topic isn’t right for you to study, please just reach out to your mentor or a YLP Program Facilitator and let them know. Your experiences are valid and important!
This is also a massive conversation that can’t be covered in one video or journal chapter, so please don’t stop here with learning about how to have wisdom with mental health!, but here are some essentials.
Mental illness is not something which only affects adults.
According to Beyond Blue, in Australia each year…
1 in 7 young people aged 4 to 17 years experience a mental health condition
1 in 10 young people aged 4 to 17 years self-harm
1 in 13 young people aged 4 to 17 years will seriously consider a suicide attempt
1 in 40 young people aged 4 to 17 years will attempt suicide
Only 31% of young women and 13% of young men with mental health problems seek any professional help.
These are some sobering and tragic statistics.
There are two really important things for us to realise, right from the start of this conversation:
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6 RSVCE
What does that mean then, if Jesus is the Prince of Peace… and He is in us?
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be
troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
John 14:27 RSVCE
Peace is a gift that God clearly intends for us! Lord, help us welcome this gift of Peace today.
While we believe that Jesus can bring peace and calm any storm, we also need to walk with people through the storm.
Because we know that a) many young people struggle with various mental health conditions, and b) it is uncommon for them to reach out for professional help, sometimes the place or people they feel safest in to share about their struggles, is in the context of a youth ministry.
It is really important that in those vulnerable moments, we act in a way that keeps both the young person as well as ourselves as youth ministers safe.
The best idea, if you think a young person is going to share something serious, is to have someone of the same gender present, and if possible, have two leaders listening to the minor together.
This is a promise that you may not be able to keep.
It is a great habit to get into, that at the start of any serious conversation with a young person (under 18 years), you let them know:
“Hey, I’m so happy to talk with you right now, thank you for trusting me. I just need to let you know that what you tell me will stay confidential except in the case that I think you or someone else is at serious risk.”
This means that in the rare case that you do need to share with authorities about what’s going on, you aren’t breaking the trust of the young person.
It’s so important that we know our limitations. We can listen to young people, but we cannot diagnose or ‘fix’ anyone (unless we are qualified mental health professionals). If a young person shares that they are at risk of harm to themselves or someone else (such as suicidal thoughts, attempts, self-harm, violence, abuse etc), it is our job to listen, and then refer them to mental health professionals.
One of the reasons we are required to report young people who are at risk to themselves or someone else, is that when their caregivers leave them with us, we assume Duty of Care for that under 18 young person. It is our legal responsibility to keep them safe.
If you aren’t feeling sure whether a young person is in immediate danger or not, ask them directly, “Hey, are you thinking about suicide?” This is a confronting question to ask, but it will help you clearly understand what’s going on, and shows you care. Sometimes a young person might even be hoping we ask the question, especially if they approached you in the first place.
Don’t hesitate or ‘wait it out’.
Call Emergency Services.
EMERGENCY SERVICES – 24 hours, 7 days a week
AUSTRALIA: 000 (TRIPLE ZERO)
As soon as you can, encourage the person involved to call the Mental Health Emergency Response Line. If they are not willing to call, you are also able to make the call.
MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY RESPONSE LINE – 24 hours, 7 days a week
METRO WA: 1300 555 788
PEEL REGION WA: 1800 676 822
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Perth has an Archdiocesan Safeguarding Office dedicated to protecting childen and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church. All youth leaders are required to complete this Safeguarding program. It will help with preventing abuse, minimising risk, heightening likelihood of detection and reducing long term impacts of abuse.
In any emergency situation, take a breath, pray a simple prayer, “Jesus, Prince of Peace, be with us now.” You’re never alone!
Put aside any distractions, such as music or your phone, and give your full attention to the short tutorial.
Continue the rest of the lesson in your OneNote.
You are free to close this page after you are done!