How the church and strong families can help adolescents deal with depression


Listen to the 10 min audio
Read the transcript:

EPIDEMIC OF ADOLESCENT DEPRESSION DRAWS UPDATED GUIDELINES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, NPR recently ran a story with the headline “Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood.” The story goes on to say as many as 2 in 3 depressed teens don’t get the care that could help them.

Dr. Rachel Zuckerbrot, a board certified adolescent psychiatrist and associate professor at Columbia University, along with the American Academy of Pediatricians, has issued updated guidelines that calls for universal screening for depression in teens.

DR. REEDER: Tom, it’s really interesting how this “disciplined and science” of psychology carves out its space pretty profoundly but I do believe they have their finger on an issue and that issue is the rising evidence and the rising incidence of depression.

WHAT DOES CHRISTIANITY SAY ABOUT DEPRESSION?

From a Christian world and life view, I’d like to draw a distinction. I believe that this three-fold view of humanity that you are spiritual, physical, and psychological, that does not stand the scrutiny of Scripture.

The Bible teaches that man is made up of two parts, male and female, are physical and spiritual. Now, they are entwined with each other and the physical affects the spiritual and the spiritual affects the physical so there are some physical causes of what we would call depression: loss of hope, loss of any joy, any happiness, a pessimistic view of life that has eventually led some people, obviously, to the taking of their life. It’s heartbreaking for all of us when we see that and then when we see people in the throes of depression.

PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS CAN SUFFER ILLNESS

I believe it’s caused physically because we’re fallen human beings, physical dynamics, where the body is not functioning right. There’s certain chemical things that are going on like synapses misfires and all of that that’s taking place can lead to depression and those should be treated medically — very carefully, now, because there have been a number of cases of suicide when people are not properly cared for when they’re medically treated for physical causes of depression.

And then, of course, is the spiritual dynamic. The Psalmist speaks of this a number of times: “My soul, why art thou disquieted? Why are you cast down?” We find it in the very first incident of the Bible where God gives the diagnosis of depression: “Cain, why is your face cast down?” We find it in Nebuchadnezzar, whose arrogance had led him into the field to live with his face down like an animal and there is a spiritual dynamic that can lead to depression. And then, sometimes, obviously, there can be the two at work within each other.

BUT WHY THE UPTICK IN INSTANCES AMONG TEENS?

Now, we want to ask ourselves a question at the moment, though, is why is there such a plethora? Why is there almost an epidemic of this depression? Now you are putting children under a mandate to be screened by people of various levels of competencies in which parental rights can be set aside by the “profession” of psychology and its screening process.

Now, having said that, is there an almost epidemic of depression among the rising generation? And I think the answer is yes. We need to ask ourselves, “What are the causes of it?” Tom, I think it’s very clear, as a pastor, I am running into ministry counseling issues of depression among young people much more than I ever had 20 years ago. I look back at my own childhood and I don’t ever remember anything like this — I’m sure there was to some degree, but nothing like this.

NEW CULTURE WITHOUT GOD, WEAK CHURCHES, AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Why is it? Well, I think we need to take a look at the environment in which our children are being raised. The secularization of our culture, the message of a God-centered life which brings hope in the God and Glory and grace is now diminished and set aside by the pressures of the culture and the cultural elite, the curtailing of the First Amendment, both in terms of freedom of speech and the free practice of religion — so that whole element of the dynamic of hope that comes through a vibrant Christianity is lost.

Secondly, within the church, we have lost our focus upon the Gospel which gives hope that we use to pour forth into the culture and then, when we’ve got hope pouring forth from an institution like the church of Jesus Christ and the people of God, that’s going to make a difference and we ought to be bringing that message. Somehow, we have gotten sidetracked into other messages and causes other than the cause of getting up on the mountain and announcing good news.

A third thing, I think, is social media, where kids, their whole life is determined by how many likes they have and things that people can say through social media without being face to face with an individual.

CHURCHES MUST SPREAD SPIRITUAL HOPE

Do I believe that there are some physical reasons for depression that can be treated? Yes, but I think the vast majority is a spiritual depression that is coming from a society that has vacuumed out of its existence the message of hope in Jesus Christ. It does not want to hear the bad news that we’re sinners. Therefore, it does not want to hear the good news that you can be saved from your sins.

Now, the question is will the church of Jesus Christ tackle this or not and I believe the Bible calls us to keep up our message and step up our game into the world with the message of hope for the sake of young people who need to hear the hope of the Gospel.

DO NOT DEPEND ON GOVERNMENT TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT

Dare I say one more thing, Tom, about that? If there is an epidemic of depression — and I actually believe there is — I don’t think the answer is to create a cast of individuals that the government forces you to go to to get their approval and then to be given medication upon their decision or not. I do think parents ought to be educated on what do you look out for in terms of depression, but I think what we really need is a vibrant, healthy church of Jesus Christ that is on-mission with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

CHURCHES: SEE THE NEED AND SPREAD THE MESSAGE OF HOPE, ESPECIALLY IN OWN FAMILIES

And, boy, you’re talking about a rich harvest field in a culture that’s in despair because of its secularization. That is a rich harvest field for us to come and say, “Listen, there is no hope there and you see where it’s headed but, over here, let me tell you where there’s hope,” and then for the church of Jesus Christ to redouble its efforts to bring the power of the Gospel to bear upon relationships so that kids see their hope in true friendships and true fellowships that are permeated with the hope of Christ, and that they see their hope that they are ambassadors of Christ that are sent into the world for Christ and they have a glorious mission and a glorious message to take.

There is much reason for hope: you are someone that Jesus Christ has died for, you are someone that the Spirit of God dwells within, you are someone that has a task and a mission and a message that counts for all eternity and what you do matters for all eternity. There is the hope of a vital relationship with God that gives you meaningful relationships and responsibilities in life.

FAMILY LIFE IS KEY — STRONG MARRIAGE AND CHURCHES RAISE UP CHILDREN WITH HOPE

And then for us to disciple families in which, once again, children are raised not in the hopelessness of broken homes, not in the fear that the home is going to break up, not in the violence that is now invading homes and abusiveness, not in the despair of the sexual revolution that destroys bodies and hopes and lives and dreams, but in the hope of Jesus Christ.

And we see that in stronger marriages, we see that in stronger families, we see that in stronger churches that get back to what they’re supposed to be doing, which is evangelizing and discipling and worshiping in the community of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ in which you reach out to people by bringing to them the hope of the Gospel and bringing them into relationships that are meaningful so they get a taste of what it means to be loved in Christ and what it means to be loved by the power of the Gospel of grace.

I think that’s the great hope. The hope is not in the creation of a new cast of professionals. Unlike what the secular culture says, you do have a soul, and unlike what the secular culture says, you do have hope, and that hope is blessed — the blessed hope Christ the Lord of Glory.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

11 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

228

The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

12 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

614

The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

13 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

255

Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

13 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

143

This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

14 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

550

ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL