What I want my kids to know if they ever struggle with their mental health

Written by Courtney Devich
Published on August 28, 2023

As parents, we want to ensure our kids are kind and will be a good friend to others. As Christian parents, we want them to know and love Jesus—absolutely. We want to teach them right from wrong and teach them biblical truths so they’re able to stand firm in their faith. And we want them to do good academically and be able to function in this world when they leave our homes. But there is something I want them to always know. Something from my own personal story that has made it important for me to teach my kids.

What to do if they ever struggle with their mental health.

I have suffered from anxiety since I was a child. I was diagnosed with depression at the age of fourteen. At the age of fifteen, I was suicidal, and again at the age of eighteen. Then, I was (finally) officially diagnosed with anxiety at the age of nineteen. Yes, all of that before I reached the age of twenty. I spent years in counseling and trying different medications to help me cope with it all. Then motherhood happened and amplified my anxiety from being manageable to debilitating.

I want my kids to know what to do if they ever experience depression or anxiety. Because—more likely than not—my history could become their future if genetics has anything to say about it.

Anxiety is being treated in children as young as three years old through play therapy. Childhood anxiety is becoming more common in this world, especially when you add in living through a pandemic, fear of school shootings, and the everyday pressure being put on our kids. Depression and suicide rates are increasing in kids even younger than I was the first time I contemplated it.

To fight this mental health crisis with our kids we need to educate them and ensure they know to tell us as soon as they start thinking these thoughts or battling their own minds in any way. As a mom who has been through it, I never want my kids to feel ashamed if they suffer from a mental health condition. I never want them to think it means there is no hope.

There is always hope.

And hope is found in God’s Word. In addition to teaching my kids the science and symptoms of mental illnesses, these are the things I always want my kids to know if they ever struggle with their mental health:

God uses people who struggle with their mental health. I remember battling depression as a teen and thinking I was unworthy of God’s love. I didn’t think he could possibly still love me with all of the thoughts going through my mind. But the truth is, people who struggle mentally are still worthy of God, and he will still use them in big ways. There was King David who often writes in the Psalms about his depressive thoughts and anxious mind. God still called David “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), and David’s lineage would lead to Jesus Christ. Then there was Jeremiah, “the Weeping Prophet,” who God called to warn his people and declare truth to them. Jeremiah wrote a whole book, Lamentations, about his sorrow. And despite his despair, he still did what God called him to do.

God uses others to heal, and there is no shame in seeking the help of a professional. God heals, yes. One hundred percent. However, I believe he uses others to heal us. Whether that’s someone who has been given the spiritual gift of healing or through the use of a doctor, friend, counselor, or whoever—God’s power is not limited and he will make it happen through whoever or however he wills. Yes, if my child is struggling, I will most definitely pray for healing for them. And I will tell them to pray to God as well—for his peace, his joy, and his strength. But I want my kids to know there is no shame in seeking help because that may be the way God heals them.

God wants you to share your story and help others who are fighting mental illness. Previous generations did not talk about mental health. It was not well-known and it was something to keep quiet because of what others would think. That’s not how I’m going to raise my kids. God does not want us to keep quiet about our stories, and he most definitely does not want us to be silenced about the ways he helps us when we’re going through a tough time. You do not glorify God for all he does through your mental illness if you do not share your story with others. God uses us to comfort others with the same comfort we receive from him (2 Corinthians 1:4), and we are triumphing over Satan by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). We can’t be silent. When we share our story, we remind others they are not alone. They’ll never be alone because God is with them through it all.

That’s what I want my kids to always remember if they ever struggle with their mental health. And that is how we can break the stigmas about mental illness through future generations.

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Courtney Devich

Courtney Devich is the author of “Mama’s Got Anxiety: But It’s Not Going to Steal Her Joy.” She is a mom of littles relying on Jesus and reheated coffee every day (and in that order). Courtney is a former human resources professional, using her leadership skills to manage kids as a stay-at-home mom. Her work has been featured on Her View From Home, For Every Mom, TODAY Parents, among others. You can find her in the Starbucks line at her local Target, binge-watching TV with her husband, or chasing after a kid (or two) at her home in Michigan. You can follow along with her at courtneydevich.com.

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