Sitting down to breakfast this morning, I did my usual news catch-up. A spokesperson for SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) was being interviewed and I was alarmed to hear the increase in the number of calls to the ‘Suicide Helpline’ in 2020. The mental health impact of COVID19 has been immense, with our young people having to navigate a new world of online education, delayed learning, social isolation, grief, fear and trauma. This in turn has lead to an increase in depression and anxiety. Statistics from the World Health Organisation show that suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 19-year-olds. In South Africa, 9% of all teen deaths are due to suicide. An even more alarming reveal is that children as young as 7 have committed suicide in South Africa.
Dr Frans Korb (SADAG Board Chairperson and Psychiatrist), says:“There is a myth that depression or suicide doesn’t affect teens or children, in fact it is very real and affects more young people than we know, with teens being a particular high risk for suicide. Depression is the leading cause of suicide; it doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, race, religion or socio-economic background.”
We need to reach out to these young people and their families with affirmation and encouragement from a source of comfort which never changes: The Word of God. This led me to thinking what the various needs are and how to present encouragement in the most useful format.
I have identified the following from observing a group of teenagers:
- They need affirmation
- They need help with depression, eating disorders and concentration
- They need to know how to control moods, their conduct, anxiety and panic
- They need moral guidance
- They need a good friend
- They need to be heard
Those that find themselves in the deep, dark pit of depression are desperately reaching out for the light. I would like to come alongside those in need and help them to find the Light of life.
The Bible book of John chapter 8 verse 12 says: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Why don’t you and your children join me on this journey to find peace, joy and abundant life?
I will be posting a weekly blog which will form part of an Affirmation and Meditation Journal. The post will seek to address the above needs.
Look out for the first Affirmation Journal blog on Friday 12 March 2021. It will include the following:
- Bible Reading and explanation
- Craft idea for relaxation and creativity
- Encouraging Quote
- Advice on eating habits and promoting positive relationships
- Breathing exercise to reduce anxiety, assist concentration and promote sleep
- Bible verse to meditate on
If you are keen to join me on this journey, please find a book which each member of your family can use as a journal. These journals will be handy to keep a record of your thoughts, aspirations and anything you would like to remember along the way.