You’ve been there, right? Listening to one of the young adults in your ministry share about how stressed out and overwhelmed they feel. They probably used words like fearful, frozen, depressed, anxious, paralyzed, or even suicidal. Your young adults know you care about them, and, as a result, you get to hear all about their lives—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes, it can be more than you want to know and can even cause you to feel stressed out and overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, this trend does not appear to be changing in the near future. The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) reports 85% of college students say they had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point within the past year and 41.6% stated anxiety as their top presenting concern.1
God has uniquely placed you in the lives of young adults, so here are a few ways you can help them as they navigate these stressful years.
- Listen—Sometimes, young adults are just missing an older, wiser presence in their lives. Simply being available to sit down over coffee or lunch can go a long way in helping someone get out all their thoughts, to not feel alone, and take a moment to process why they might be feeling overwhelmed. Listening allows you to hear more serious concerns that could lead you to help them take additional next steps.
- Help Them Set Boundaries—As an outside observer, you can play an important role in the process of helping young adults identify the various factors that are leading to stress and anxiety. Maybe you need to help them learn to say no to certain opportunities. Maybe they are experiencing negative consequences as a result of sin in their lives, in which case you can also help them put boundaries in place to avoid that sin and turn to Christ in true repentance.
- Read Up on the Subject—This is continually one of the biggest issues I hear ministers of young adults talk about having to deal with. You aren’t a professional counselor (and don’t need to be), but you can take some initiative to spend some time reading about some of the basics of this issue. It would also be worth your time to talk to a professional and ask for some suggestions on how you can best be prepared to help. A couple of great, simple articles can be found HERE and HERE.
- Know When to Refer—You are not a professional counselor, and that’s OK! As you listen to young adults share, take note of any indicators that they might be having suicidal thoughts or are contemplating harming themselves or others. Trust your gut when you think a situation is beyond your ability to offer adequate help. With the stats continuing to rise, it would be wise to go ahead and find a trusted professional in your area that you could refer young adults to as needed to avoid needing to locate one in a crisis moment.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? The other good news is that just as God has placed you in this important place of ministry, He has equipped you and He is present with you! Above all these “4 ways,” you have the truth of the gospel. Whether you are using tip 1, 2, 3, or 4, always remind young adults that Christ’s love for them knows no end and that He is waiting to intercede on their behalf as One who cares deeply for them.
Bill Noe is the Collegiate Ministry Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources. A former campus minister (and current collegiate ministry volunteer at church), Bill loves being a part of seeing college students grow in their walk with the Lord. Connect with Bill on Twitter.
1. Sources for the two statistics cited in this sentence are respectively: 2015 National College Health Assessment and 2013 Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors Survey.