New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 56

new church life: march/april 2017 • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This is a condition that can develop following a traumatic and/or terrifying event. There are other diseases or conditions, including various  sleep- related problems and many forms of  dementia, including  Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s and certain forms of dementia are sometimes classified as mental illnesses, because they involve the brain. At the Centers for Disease Control they say about 25% of Americans have some form of mental illness. Also it is estimated that 20% of teens and adolescents meet the diagnostic criteria for mental health disorder. So teens are struggling with this. Those with symptoms of mental illness are often afraid to speak out about it for fear of being judged by their peers or by their parents. If you are a parent of a teenager who you believe is affected by mental illness the most important thing you can do is to encourage your child to talk to you about the problem. Many teens attempt suicide as a means of escaping those symptoms that they don’t know how to deal with. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents in the United States. No matter who you are everyone needs to feel there is someone they can talk to. If we keep the issues bottled up inside it will only make the symptoms of the mental illness worse. I think about this from a spiritual perspective. Hell thrives under a cloak of darkness. When we are unwilling to bring what we are struggling with into the light, that’s a victory for them. You don’t want to talk about it? That’s a victory for them. We are too embarrassed to talk about it? That’s a victory for them. Can you imagine someone in such a state of pain and despair that this – suicide – seems like the solution? Seems like that’s a better choice – a better choice than even trying to get help for it. It feels worse for them to actually talk to somebody because it’s too embarrassing. So ending their life seems like a better solution than sharing what they are If you are a parent of a teenager who you believe is affected by mental illness the most important thing you can do is to encourage your child to talk to you about the problem. You don’t want to talk about it? That’s a victory for them. We are too embarrassed to talk about it? That’s a victory for them. 122