Did you know that 70% of mental health problems and illnesses start during childhood or adolescence. ( See www.mental health commission) and only one out of 5 of those children in need of mental health services actually receives them?  Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents. Depression among youth is a very common experience.

Are these gloomy statistics the end of the story?  No!  This quote tells it all:  “Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When “I” is replaced by “We”, illness becomes wellness.” ( Shannon L. Alder)


Once a mental health issue is recognized, help can make a difference for most people.  Appropriate help may allow a return to their regular life.  Fellow students and friends are often the first persons to recognize that a young person might be experiencing distress.  Signs of distress might be depression, tiredness, sleep disturbances, anxiety, mood swings, inability to focus, and sensitivity to stimuli.  Offering a helping hand to discuss a problem may be a good first step.  The next step for a friend is to contact an informed resource person – teacher, counselor, medical personnel or crisis line.

Additional Resources about Youth and Mental Health

Children, Youth and Depression – Canadian Mental Health Assn.

Youth and Self Injury –Canadian Mental Health Assn.

A Mental Health Strategy for Canada: A Youth Perspective (download at

Peer Support: You play a role in prevention and peer assistance.

*There are many free and inexpensive apps on iTunes for phones and computers related to health and mental health


Crisis Numbers in Alberta and Northwest Territories

Children`s Mental Health-Crisis Line

Phone: (780) 427-4491


Provides immediate crisis telephone support to children, adolescents and their care providers.

Kids Help Phone

Phone: 1 800 668 6868


Kids Help Phone is a free, anonymous and confidential phone and on-line professional counselling service for youth available 24/7.

Mental Health Helpline

24 Hour Help Line: 1-877-303-2642


The Mental Health Helpline provides 24 hour telephone advice, assessment, referral, crisis intervention and support.

Web: provides information about mental health resources and services available in your local area.  This website has information about local support groups, crisis supports, mental health facilities and information about mental illnesses.


NWT Help Line : Northwest Territories :…

Oct 23, 2008 The NWT Help Line provides a telephone listening support to all callers; 365 days a year. Regardless of the problem or concern, volunteers are … 1-800-661-0844


Getting Started to Talk About Mental Health and Illness In Your Congregation

How do you get started to talk about mental illness in your congregation? This is often a topic that is ignored and hidden. There are many resources to help you start a conversation in your congregation. This is a list of just a few!

  1. Add books about mental health and coping with mental illness to your book club or study group list.
    1. Some suggested books are:
      1. Rev. Daranne Harris suggested a book written by her friend and colleague Rev. Sarah Griffith Lund. Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, 2014. (
        This book has gained some incredible acclaim south of the border. It is a wonderful resource to share with families living with mental illness and may be a tool for a congregation’s study or book group.
      2. Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder, In the Shadow of God’s Wings: Grace in the Midst of Depression. Upper Room Books, Nashville, TN, 1997
      3. Rev. Dr. Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Darkness is my Only Companion, Brazos Press, 2006.
    2. Download a copy of the resource/study guide for clergy and communities of faith, Mental Illness and families of Faith: How congregations can Respond ( and plan a workshop using the guide. This study introduces a 5-step program to create a caring congregation.
  2. Use videos or clips from YouTube to introduce the topic. Mental Health Ministries ( over the past 15 years has produced many shows, which address faith/spirituality and mental illness. Three of their shows, Creating Caring Congregations, Mental Illness and families of Faith and Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression and Families of Faith received Telly awards for excellence. Each show is provided in a preview clip or a complete show on DVD and can be accessed on their YouTube channel A complete list of the DVD’s and preview clips is available on their webpage.
  3. Include special prayers related to mental health in our regular services.
  4. Develop special services e.g. a candlelighting service of truth and healing related to mental illness. Both NAMI and Mental Health Ministries offer sample services/sermons.
  5. Sign up to receive regular updates via links to resources addressing spirituality and mental illness.
    1. Mental Health Ministries E spotlights. Sign up at their website
    2. Healthy Place Newsletter. You can read the newsletter on line or subscribe to the newsletter.
    3. National Alliance on Mental Illness Faith Net (
  6. Use bulletin inserts to focus on various mental health issues and congregational responses to them. See examples on Mental Health Ministries website. Our October entry provided two examples. During November it would be appropriate to include a bulletin insert on PTSD for Veterans and how the church might support persons in the Canadian military. An example of such a bulletin insert for US veterans can be found on the Mental Health Ministries website (
  7. Make sure your congregation has selected a team of 1-3 persons to receive the scholarships offered from the ELCIC Alberta and the Territories Synod to attend a Mental Health First Aid Workshop!


CARe Ministry Team:
Carl Sorensen – Edmonton

Dianne Kieren – Edmonton
Rev. Kathie Schmitke – Edmonton
Rev. Marty Tuer – Red Deer
Rev. Keith Loewen – Calgary
Rev. Richard Reimer – Edmonton
Rev. Mike Lynch – Edmonton (Anglican Rep.)