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


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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.

55 mins ago

Mobile native Hank Aaron, the greatest ever to play baseball, passes away

Native Alabamian Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron, widely regarded as one of history’s best ever baseball players, passed away on Friday at the age of 86.

Born and raised in Mobile, Aaron spent most of his childhood in Toulminville. Growing up in a poor family in the segregated South, his family could not afford baseball equipment, so Aaron practiced the game he loved by hitting bottle caps with sticks. He would also create his own bats and balls out of materials he found on the streets.

As a teenager, he started rising through the ranks as a member of the Mobile Black Bears, a semipro team at the time in the Negro Leagues. At age 20, he made his Major League Baseball debut with the then-Milwaukee Braves.

Over the course of his 23-year MLB career, Aaron became a giant across the country. He would end his legendary playing days as the all-time leader in home runs, RBIs, total bases reached and extra-base hits. He won a World Series in 1957 with the Braves and was the NL MVP that season.

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Among a litany of honors, Aaron was selected to an All-Star team 25 times, which is the most by any player in MLB history. His No. 44 is retired by the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown in 1982 on the first ballot and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

Aaron spent much of his post-playing career in Atlanta as an executive with the Braves. He made the city his own for decades, and passed away in his home there on Friday morning, according to Georgia’s CBS 46.

Governor Kay Ivey mourned Aaron’s death in a tweet.

Hank Aaron Stadium immortalizes the late, native Mobilian in his hometown. This is the former home of the semipro team now known as the Rocket City Trash Pandas, when the team was the Mobile Bay Bears.

UPDATE 11:10 a.m.

Ivey has ordered flags in Alabama be flown at half-staff immediately to honor Aaron. Flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset on Friday.

Congressman Jerry Carl (AL-01), who represents Mobile in the U.S. House of Representatives, released a statement.

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of Hank Aaron’s passing,” said Carl. “A Mobile native, ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ was a baseball legend respected not only for his performance on the field, but also for his personal integrity and character. Hank Aaron never let his humble upbringing and lack of access to baseball equipment as a young boy hamper his growth or dedication to the game. Throughout his storied career, he would ultimately smash multiple baseball hall of fame records, most notably shattering Babe Ruth’s home run record by hitting 755 home runs. I’m proud to call him a fellow Mobilian, and I know his family and friends take comfort knowing his memory lives on in the lives of so many. My prayers are with the family and friends of Hank Aaron today.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Gen. Lloyd Austin confirmed as secretary of Defense with Shelby’s, Tuberville’s support

U.S. Army General Lloyd J. Austin (Ret.) on Friday was confirmed in a bipartisan 93-2 vote by the United States Senate as the next secretary of the Department of Defense.

Austin, who is a native of Mobile and currently serves on the Auburn University board of trustees, becomes the first black defense secretary in American history. He was nominated by President Joe Biden for the post.

U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) voted to support Austin’s confirmation.

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Tuberville said in a statement, “Retired General Lloyd Austin is a son of the great state of Alabama – born in Mobile and an Auburn University alumnus and Trustee – who understands the critical role our state’s five military bases play in supporting America’s armed forces. General Austin’s decades of service make him well-positioned to lead the Department of Defense and confront the threats facing our country. I look forward to working with him for the benefit of Alabamians, Americans, and all of our men and women in uniform to advance the safety and security of our great nation.”

The Senate vote came after both chambers of Congress the prior day granted him a waiver to the law requiring that the secretary of Defense either be a civilian or someone who has been retired from the military for seven or more years.

After a nearly 41-year decorated military career, Austin retired in 2016 as a four-star general. Some of his former posts include service as the commander of U.S. Central Command, commander of the Combined Forces in Iraq and Syria, and as the 33rd vice chief of staff of the Army.

Austin is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds master’s degrees from Auburn and Webster University. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Auburn, and his wife, Charlene, is also an Auburn graduate.

Additionally, the retired general currently serves on the board of directors for Raytheon Technologies and Nucor, both of which have significant Alabama presences.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.

In a tweet, Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03), who represents Auburn in the U.S. House of Representatives, applauded the confirmation. Rogers is ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“Congratulations to General Austin on his historic confirmation. I appreciate his longstanding commitment to our military, and I look forward to working with him to provide our men and women in uniform all the resources they need to successfully defend our nation,” said Rogers.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Two Alabama Democrats file lawsuit, claim Doug Jones tried to ‘give control of the Alabama Democratic Party to Whites’

Two members of the Alabama Democratic Conference have filed a lawsuit against Tom Perez, the national Democratic Party’s former chair. They claim he and former Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) attempted to “give control of the Alabama Democratic Party to Whites.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by Randy Kelley and Janet May. Both are affiliates of the Alabama Democratic Conference, a group that describes itself as the “Black Political Caucus of Alabama” and operates independently of the official state Democratic Party.

The case stems from a years-long dispute over Democratic leadership in Alabama.

Barry Ragsdale, an attorney who was has supported the Perez-aligned faction of Alabama Democrats that now controls the party, attacked the validity of the lawsuit.

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“The Plaintiffs are just sore losers, who can’t accept their defeat and who now recklessly scream ‘racism’ because they know that neither the law or the facts support their legal claims,” Ragsdale said in a statement to Alabama Media Group.

The lawsuit is the latest action in an extended legal imbroglio that began in 2018.

Then-Senator Doug Jones, unhappy with a state Democratic party infrastructure that he felt was ineffective, attempted to install a personal friend and ally as chair of the state party during a party meeting.

That effort failed, and Nancy Worley was reelected to the position of state chair with the backing of the Alabama Democratic Conference and its longtime leader Joe Reed.

However, a group of Alabama Democrats asserted there were irregularities in how the party’s internal election was conducted.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) examined the allegations of improper conduct and found them to be valid, ultimately ordering the state party to conduct new elections.

After much intraparty fighting, which led to an extended court battle, State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) emerged as the party chairman.

England, who is the state party’s first black chairperson, had the backing of Jones and the DNC.

Worley ultimately stopped pursuing her claim to be party chair in the spring of 2020 after a state judge dismissed a last-ditch suit.

The new England-led regime at the Alabama Democratic Party passed new bylaws that govern the state party and set out how the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) is elected.

Those changes, backed by England, Jones, Perez and the DNC, are the subject of Kelley and May’s lawsuit filed in recent days.

The suit names Perez, England and the SDEC as defendants.

Kelley and May say the changes do not comply with a 1991 federal court order that required black members of the party receive proportional representation on the executive committee to their share of Democratic votes cast.

“After Blacks became a majority of the SDEC, the governing body, Perez joined with Senator Doug Jones and others to weaken Black’ influence and give the control of the Alabama Democratic Party to Whites,” Kelley said in a release posted publicly by the Alabama Democratic Conference.

The new bylaws do change the method of ensuring a proportional amount of black members are on the executive committee. Similar to the previous arrangement, black individuals are added as at large members to ensure proper representation numbers.

However, in the new bylaws, the executive committee as a whole selects the at large members instead of leaving the selection of the at large members to the minority caucus.

Joe Reed and the Democratic Conference leadership had control over the equivalent of the minority caucus in the version of the party that existed before 2019. They regularly used the ability to select members as a tool to assert influence over the state party.

The Alabama Democratic Conference said in its statement that it believes the 2019 changes to how the executive committee is composed amount to “undermining, diluting, and discriminating against Black Democrats.”

Ragsdale pushed back on the assertions by Kelley, May and the Democratic Conference, telling Alabama Media Group that the plaintiffs “can’t accept that their side lost after an open and fair election.”

Ragsdale continued, “At its core, this most recent lawsuit is anti-democratic and an attack on the values of inclusion and diversity that guide the Democratic Party.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 hours ago

Alabama’s unemployment rate dips to 3.9%, lowest point of pandemic

The Alabama Department of Labor on Friday announced that the state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate was 3.9%, the lowest mark since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The latest figure came in the final full month of President Donald J. Trump’s administration and was down from November’s rate of 4.4%. December’s rate represented 87,534 unemployed Alabamians, compared to 100,374 the previous month.

While the latest rate is much improved from April’s bleak 13.4%. it is also still above December 2019’s rate of 2.7%, showing significant work is needed to get back to year-over-year parity.

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Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said in a statement, “This is the lowest unemployment rate Alabama has seen since the pandemic began, and I’m glad to see us close out 2020 on a good note.”

“While we are pleased to see our rate continue to drop, we know there is still a lot more work to be done,” he continued. “More than 26,000 Alabamians are unemployed now than at the same time last year. We are still down more than 34,000 jobs from last year. Our work in 2021 will be focused on continuing this recovery.”

Wage and salary employment grew in December by 6,200. According to a release, monthly gains were seen in the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+7,700), the leisure and hospitality sector (+3,000), and the education and health services sector (+1,100), for example. Over the year, the biggest losses in wage and salary employment came in the leisure and hospitality sector (-19,400), the education and health services sector (-16,400), and the government sector (-9,700), among others.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in December were: Cullman County at 2.1%; Shelby, Marshall and Franklin Counties at 2.2%; and DeKalb and Cleburne Counties at 2.3%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 10.6%, Lowndes County at 10.2% and Perry County at 7.8%.

Meanwhile, major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 1.7%; Alabaster at 2.0%; and Madison at 2.1%. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Prichard at 11%; Selma at 9.0%; and Bessemer and Anniston at 7.0%.

(Click for high-quality image)

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

7 Things: Biden and Ivey keep masks on, cautious start for coming legislative session, Alabama Dems must want Mo Brooks to be a senator and more …

7. Biden’s plan for vaccinations is already on pace

  • For as much as the incoming Biden administration proclaimed the previous administration was a disaster on the coronavirus, you would think that they would set goals that far outpace the criticized output for vaccine rollout, but this is not the case. Vaccine delivery is already on pace for 100 million vaccines in 100 days.
  • Despite this fact, which angered President Joe Biden, some in the Biden administration claim that the administration is starting their distribution program from scratch. Dr. Anthony Fauci denies this.

6. Just stop with impeachment

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  • As if the nation hasn’t suffered enough from phony and politically-motivated impeachments, freshman U.S. Representative  Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has already filed articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden over his interactions with Ukraine. This is going nowhere.
  • Greene said, “President Joe Biden is unfit to hold the office of the Presidency. His pattern of abuse of power as President Obama’s Vice President is lengthy and disturbing.” She cited Biden’s threat to withhold a loan to Ukraine unless a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that employed Hunter Biden as part of the younger Biden’s scheme  “to siphon off cash from America’s greatest enemies Russia and China” using his dad as leverage, was fired.

5. Keystone Pipeline shutdown wipes out up to 11,000 jobs 

  • In a move that made American liberals and foreign governments very happy, President Joe Biden decided that the previously-approved Keystone Pipeline should be stopped mid-construction. 
  • Biden’s campaign slogan was “Build Back Better,” but the cancellation of the 1,700-mile pipeline stops 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast. This is a costly decision because it ends around 11,000 American jobs that would have generated $1.6 billion in wages.

4. Alabama Democrats hammer Mo Brooks

  • Coming off his controversial speech that took place six hours before the U.S. Capitol riots, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has drawn fire from the Alabama Democratic Party and former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith (D-Huntsville).
  • The Alabama Democratic Party is selling “No Mo Bullshit” merchandise to raise money from their email list, and Griffth recorded a YouTube video with 23 views, as of this writing, saying that Brooks should resign. He stated, “He chose to support domestic terrorism over the Constitution and has showed no remorse for his actions. Mo Brooks has become dangerous to democracy. He has disgraced and embarrassed the state of Alabama. Mo Brooks must face the consequences of his actions.  Congress must act now to expel him.”

3. Two-week pause after the beginning of the legislative session

  • The legislative session for the Alabama Legislature will begin on February 2, and now House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has said that they will take a break after the first two weeks to assess the coronavirus pandemic situation and how it’s impacting work.
  • This will also be done to make sure that there isn’t an outbreak of cases, and it’ll be time to figure out which legislation needs to be prioritized. It appears that discussions surrounding re-upping economic incentives, coronavirus liability immunity for responsible businesses and gambling matters are all on the table, along with the normal business of passing operating budgets.

2. Biden: Take a mask with you to travel (like you already were)

  • President Joe Biden is planning to require people to wear masks when they travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, a vast majority of people are already doing this as airlines require it.
  • Biden is also looking to increase vaccine supply and testing for the coronavirus. The White House official directing the national response to the pandemic, Jeff Zients, said, “We need to ask average Americans to do their part.”

1. 15 more days to stop the spread for 6 more weeks

  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced that the statewide mask mandate will be in effect until at least March 5 at 5:00 p.m. There were no other major changes to the statewide emergency health order. Ivey said that the masks remain “the one step that we can all take in order to keep some balance in our daily lives, and stay healthy and safe.”
  • One change in the order was allowing more flexibility in recruiting poll workers for upcoming elections across the state. Although, in her statements, Ivey focused on the high number of hospitalizations the state has seen. She said that “of the 1,600 ICU beds in our state, 1,561 were occupied” last week.