Teenagers and Discouragement (Depression: How to Counsel)
For some teenagers, the weight of the world keeps them focused on their overwhelming problems, resulting in varying degrees of sadness and discouragement. The destructive power of depression results in loneliness and isolation.
Much of what we wrote about this week will also apply when ministering to a student struggling with depression: engage and be present, listen well, and connect/refer them to professional help if the problem is serious. Here are a few other ideas to help you make an impact in the life of a discouraged student:
Facilitate Stronger Connections
We each need a support system of solid relationships, especially during seasons of sadness. Depression can lead to isolation, which makes things worse by guaranteeing a downward spiral. Encourage your student to take an inventory of their friendships. This can help them identify specific ways to enhance their relationships and make them more meaningful. Bolster his courage and let him know the risk of connecting with others is worth the outcome. Being around people can be a reminder of the good things in life.
If needed, encourage your student to openly share what’s going on in their life (this needs to happen in the right places). Unloading their burden onto the wrong person (or people) will work against them, creating more distance and isolation. When new friendships are forming, typically they are not strong enough to support a serious depression. You will continue to be a safe place to listen, and encourage a hurting student to be wise when he/she shares with others.
Reveal Significance in Serving
Because God created everyone for significance, everyone can make a difference in this world. Some teenagers are experts at seeing only what’s wrong in their life and it’s a great outlet for them to experience serving others. Serving in the name of Jesus is a great way to refocus anyone’s outlook, exposing him/her to the positives that come from making a real contribution. A discouraged student may not be ready for an “upfront” type leadership role, but he/she can be encouraged to do something helpful in your ministry (behind the scenes). A good way to change the mind is to engage the hands… and there is a joy that can only be found in serving!
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”
This article “Teenagers and Discouragement or Depression: How to Counsel” by Doug Klossen was excerpted from: www.youthministry.com web site. August 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.