According to the National Institutes of Health, one in five adolescents in the United States suffers severe impairment or distress from a mental disorder. Often, these teenagers and their families feel isolated and alone, not knowing where to turn for help.
In addition, mental illness is still stigmatized to a degree that hinders many people from seeking treatment or receiving the support they need.
Dr. Matthew Stanford understands this problem well. He’s the CEO of the Hope and Healing Center and Institute in Houston. Every day, he works with people whose lives have been shattered by mental illness.
He says the reason why we often perceive mental health issues in adolescents differently than biological issues, like diabetes, is because of distorted empathy – that is, we all experience some form of mental stress, so we think we understand other people’s experiences even though, in reality, we have no idea.
For example, we’ve all been sad, so we think we understand what a teenager with clinical depression must be feeling. Or because we’ve worried, we assume we understand the struggles of someone with an anxiety disorder.
Dr. Stanford believes teenagers need to be offered a more holistic approach to mental health problems, strategies that treat them as multifaceted individuals with mental, spiritual, and relational aspects to their lives. When that perspective is employed, people benefit from medication, diet and exercise, spiritual guidance, and support from their family or a support group.
To help you navigate the complex issues surrounding mental health, we’ve invited Dr. Matthew Stanford to be our guest on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Helping Those Suffering from Mental Illness.”
He shares how adolescents struggling with mental health can be restored to health and lead productive lives. Listen to our full conversation on your local radio station, online, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app.
If you have immediate concerns, we also have caring Christian counselors on staff, and it would be their privilege to offer to a free consultation. Call us, leave your name and number, and they’ll get back with you just as soon as possible. The number during business hours is 1-800-A-FAMILY 9232-6459).
Let me also say that we here at Focus on the Family have been so dismayed by the rising rate of suicide, especially among our youth, that we’ve developed a helpful online resource called Alive to Thrive: A Biblical Guide to Preventing Teen Suicide.
Alive to Thrive is a free six-session program that includes video interviews with experts and roundtable discussions on how to prevent suicide. It is specifically designed to help you reach your children, tweens, and teens. It also includes interviews with suicide survivors and provides hope to kids in troubling situations. Best of all, this is a digital resource that we can put into your hands today. Check here for full details.
Dr. Stanford’s book Grace for The Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness is available for a gift of any amount. Click here for more information or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).