This past month we took a handful of students to Mainstreet Church for the Ethos Retreat. This is something our students look forward to each year! During one of the breakout sessions, they split the boys and girls into two separate groups. The girls participated in an activity called "Stand Up for Your Sister." This is a powerful anonymous exercise, where they fill out a survey honestly. This survey has questions about body image, addictive and harmful behaviors, sexual failures, familial disfunction, abuse, etc. You answer "yes" or "no" to a variety of questions. All the surveys are collected and redistributed. As the questions are read aloud, if the survey you are now holding has "yes" circled, you stand on behalf of your sister. It is amazing, and heartbreaking, the amount of girls who stand up for each question. Our teens are going through a lot of stuff, and often think they are the only ones. This exercise demonstrates in a powerful way that they are not alone!!
Afterward we broke them into smaller groups to allow them to talk about a topic that was of most significance to them. The 5 groups were:
1) Anxiety and Depression
2) Self Harm
4) Eating Disorders
As the girls migrated to the different areas of the room, I was shocked that roughly 80% of them wanted to talk about anxiety and depression. It was humbling to hear their stories and struggles - whether they personally had been diagnosed with clinical depression, whether they struggled with social anxiety, or just had friends who did. It was a beautiful time of sharing and healing, crying and praying. They realized they were not alone!
Axis.org creates Parent Guides on a ton of topics. This week they released the guide on Depression and Anxiety for free, so I wanted to share it with you! More of our students are wrestling with anxiety and depression than we may realize. How do we enter into this and share the light and hope of Jesus amidst the darkness? This Parent Guide provides some great ideas and resources. Check it out! Don't be afraid to enter into these difficult conversations with your teens!