Great new guest post this week by Liz Edge. A quality professional youth worker with a passion for emotional health. Check out her new book at www.liz-edge.co.uk
It was through adolescence that I began to feel a void in dialogue between my Christian faith, and being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. No one seemed to want to talk about emotional health and God in the same conversation; it was as if they simply didn’t mix.
Over the years, I was convinced that others out there must be thinking similar thoughts to me. I couldn’t be the only teenage Christian living in the void. As I got older, I would ask myself;
Why am I so anxious all the time, even though the Bible tells me not to worry?
Does God still love me, even though I self-harm?
How can I be a Christian and be diagnosed with depression?
As I gained more insight into the area of mental and emotional health, I realised Christian’s aren’t exempt from experiencing poor mental health. Being a follower of Christ is a lived experience, and that includes living with illnesses of all kinds.
If we pause, taking a moment to look at the reality people are currently facing, we’ll see that:
- Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression and it is the leading cause of disability worldwide. (WHO, 2015)
- In the UK, anxiety disorders are estimated to affect 5-19% of all children and adolescents. (NHS, 2014)
- The majority of people who are reported to self-harm are aged between 11 and 25. (Mental Health Foundation, 2017)
Here we have three statements that show a snapshot of the many challenges adolescents face in our society today.
The encouraging news is that research shows teenagers want to talk about these challenges with trusted adults; they want to break the silence and no longer identify them as ‘taboo’ topics. Whether it is because young people are facing these adversities themselves, or because friends/family are struggling, they want to talk and therefore we must listen.
So, for those of us working with young people, we’re left with a conundrum: How do we even begin to effectively support the young people we engage with in exploring their emotional well-being and Christian faith? Where does the conversation begin in this vast arena?
Exploring Emotional Health: six workshop outlines for youth leaders will enable you to begin these vital conversations. It is a practical resource which breaks open the void in exploring these challenges with teenagers. The book covers six key topics and even includes ready to go workshops on: self-esteem; anxiety; depression; self-harm; identifying and coping with emotions.
Each chapter presents an essential understanding of every topic so you are equipped to run the creative workshops. The flexibility of how they’re written means they could used as a series during term-time or simply as a one-off at a residential weekend.
A decade since my personal experience, there are still teenagers today asking the same questions. By using Exploring Emotional Health you’ll be helping to close the void in openly discussing emotional health and Christian faith. Don’t wait for someone else to talk to them – be the one to start the conversation today.
Exploring Emotional Health can be purchased for £9.99 from various Christian book shops, including KevinMahyew.com.
Mental Health Foundation (2017), Self-harm [online]. Available at: <https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/self-harm> [Accessed 7 February 2017]
NHS (2014), Anxiety [online]. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anxiety-children/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Accessed 27 June 2017]
World Health Organisation (2015), Depression [online]. Available at: http://www.who.int/topics/depression/en/ [Accessed: 30 October 2016]
Liz Edge is a professionally qualified Youth Work Practitioner holding a First-Class BA (Hons) Degree in Youth Work & Ministry. She is the author of Exploring Emotional Health and has contributed to the work of local and national organisations; these include Romance Academy, selfharmUK and Premier Youth and Children’s Work.
As a freelancer, Liz is able to offer a wide range of youth work through education, training and intervention. Her practice is made authentic by drawing from her own life’s adversities, including living with depression and anxiety for over a decade.
In all her pioneering work, Liz’s ethos is to provide holistic support to adolescents in their relationships and to promote positive wellbeing; with themselves, with others and with the wider world.
You can find out more about Liz at Liz-Edge.co.uk and can follow her on Twitter @LizEdge_ and Facebook /LizEdgeYouthWorker – she’d love for you to say Hi!