Church offering mental health program for teens

Published 7:08 pm Monday, February 4, 2019

Beginning Feb. 13, Crossway Church on U.S. 61 South will be offering a program open to the community to help people better assist youth ages 12-18 with mental health, addiction and crisis problems.

Bryan Tribble, Crossway community pastor, said the program is part of the church’s efforts to reach out to the community with programs and events like the mental health program, which is called “Help! Guiding our children through the valleys…”

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

“One of the things Crossway has been looking toward is becoming more of a community-minded church,” Tribble said. “Getting outside the four walls. One of the things I’ve been a proponent of is getting the people out of the church serving the community rather than just serving themselves.”

The program, he said, is the church’s first move to serve the community “and provide something it needs.”

Tribble, who has lived in Vicksburg for more than 10 years, said there is a need for a program to help adolescents 12-18. “It is unbelievable the things that some kids are going through. And the parents, I can only imagine what they’re going through as they go through this.

“We wanted to do something that could help the family, the child, the parents, the caregiver, whoever it may be.”

Similar to adult program

He said the youth program is the result of a similar program for adults that was held at the church. “This was the next logical step.”

Randall Williams who conducted the adult class and will do the youth program, said the program will be held each Wednesday for 13 weeks at 6:15 p.m.

The program includes two parts, a class on mental health issues followed by a traditional support group program where people discuss their situations and possible assistance.

The class part of the program will teach people about the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in youth, the importance of early intervention, and how to help youth who are in a crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.

The second part of the program is designed to provide support for people who are experiencing problems.

“We will discuss topics that are relevant to meeting their needs, and the relationships that they have, and we’ll discuss that in a secure, safe, environment with confidentiality,” Williams said.

“We will use group wisdom, problem solving and other group-based tactics and techniques to help them normalize their situation.”

Williams said the class program is secular-based.

“It’s basically tools and techniques for human relations and developing communication skills,” he said.

“It will be as religious as they (participants) want it to be,” Tribble said. “If they’re just there for the nuts and bolts — how to help your 12- to 18-year-old — they’ll get that at the first part of the group.

“If they’re looking for that care and support, that will be the next part.”

Williams said people can get information on agencies that provide help for their situation and their child’s problem during the support group period.

Pressure on youth

According to the National Alliance for Mental Health website, about 1 in 5 youth aged 13 to 18, or 21.4 percent, experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children ages 8 to15, the estimate is 13 percent.

“I think from the ages of 12 to 18, if you’re a parent, you realize your child is changing,” Tribble said. “There are things that are going on in their lives that they need help with. They’ve got their peers that can lead them in the wrong direction or the right direction.

“You’ve got a gamut of things kids are going through. They’re experimenting with drugs, with sexual activity. I think what we’re trying to do, at least for Crossway, we’re trying to help those who need help, because there’s really no way to turn,” he said.

“There’s so many agencies, institutions, you can go to, and it seems more often than not people just get shuttled from one to another to another and not getting any help.”

He hopes the program “will begin the process of the church being a point of contact first, and then we’ll have people in the church who find people help.”

People interested in attending the program should contact the church at crosswaychurch.com/groups to reserve a seat.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John