An Age of Anxiety
By Ali Laing
I am increasingly becoming aware of the anxiety that is being felt by our younger people that has seemingly increased over the last 8 months or so. Many young people have struggled to balance life, work, play and faith in the midst of social distancing, partial lockdowns and complicated Covid regulations at their schools.
It has not been an easy time. One youth pastor recently shared with me that their S3 boys are as stressed about school just now in November as S5’s usually are two weeks before their final higher exams. Everyone seems a bit heightened. Perhaps like me you think back to your high school years especially pre-exam years and remember nothing of stress, anxiety or worrying about your mental health.
In a BBC article printed in 2019, so pre-Covid times, the evidence was clear that mental wellbeing was something to seriously consider. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-47133338.
We have become increasingly aware of looking for signs and finding ways to help people with their mental health. We have seen multiple Mental Health first aid courses run over the past 18 months around Scottish churches and continue to look for ways to help people who are affected by any associated conditions.
I really want to take the opportunity in this article to promote a brilliant new resource to help young people find ways to practically help them with any issues they are facing, whilst also helping them see how their faith can play a pivotal role in helping them feel better. Headstrong (https://www.beheadstrong.uk/) is a brilliant website designed to be used by young people on their smartphones. Headstrong is a project fully informed and built on our foundational faith and the philosophy of life taught in the Bible. It is unapologetically Christian in focus – but expressed and communicated in ways that mean anyone can connect with the site and find themselves represented there. And the content will cover all kinds of topics – so whilst some will directly and specifically mention faith or talk about theology or biblical concepts, others will be looking at core issues of health, psychology or life and draw in great teaching from medicine, psychology or psychiatry. Here we benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of a great range of contributors and the partnership with the Mind and Soul Foundation, who bring decades of knowledge and experience from the world of mental and emotional health.
There is also a really helpful free resource available for youth leaders to run sessions exploring mental wellbeing from a Christian Perspective. You can download for FREE from YouthScape: (https://www.youthscape.co.uk/store/product/headstrong-youth-group-programme)
If you or your church have a desire to help the young people within your community deal with real life, with real faith in a real world then can I thoroughly recommend you consider the above resources.