Few days pass when we don’t hear a TV news story or read a story in print about the mental health crisis in the U.S. And we sadly acknowledge that mental health issues among youth continued to escalate during the pandemic. One in five children, either currently or at some point during their life, will have a debilitating mental health issue (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Contrary to a widespread belief, people with mental health challenges are more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators of crime (American Psychological Association).

Youth from loving, supportive homes can also experience mental health challenges (World Health Organization). In response to growing concerns about how we can help, FCC’s Social Justice & Witness Committee chose to donate much of its 2023 resources to local organizations that support at-risk youth: 4J Natives Program, Bags of Love, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Community Outreach through Radical Empowerment, Looking Glass, Positive Community Kitchen, Refugee Resettlement Program, Transponder, and the SVdP Youth House. In early March, SJ&W invited Transponder to an Adult Education session because the committee recognizes that LGBTQ youth are at even greater risk of suffering from anxiety, depression, and suicide.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, expect to find around the church printed material on mental health, notices for educational events related to mental health, and listings of mental health resources. In the future, we will provide other learning opportunities for our church family, including hearing from mental health experts. Stay tuned.

This year it seems we are hearing more and more about loneliness, anxiety, depression, and a mental health crisis across the globe. FCC’s Social Justice and Witness Committee wants to understand these issues and help our congregation be a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive church for all who enter our doors. To that end, we have learned:

  • The May 2021 American Perspectives Survey finds that Americans report having fewer close friendships than they once did, talking to their friends less often and relying less on their friends for personal support.
  • A new survey of 10,000 Americans finds 61% of us are lonely. Young people, men, and those new at their jobs are some of the hardest hit.
  • A CDC report released last month paints a deeply disturbing picture of the mental health of high schoolers. 42% of the 17,000 teens surveyed experienced persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) states:

  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-14
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.

Since millions of people in the U.S. are affected by mental illness, it is important to realize how common it is. Awareness is key to understanding and nurturing compassionate inclusivity of all people. The Social Justice and Witness Committee will continue to provide additional information. If you are interested in learning more about the challenges of mental health in our community, please join us on this journey.

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the United States since 1949. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Watch in
the daily al church emails for times and dates of events that will shine a light on mental health topics.