Since 2016 there has been a very sharp rise in mental health issues among youth. NBC News reporter Elizabeth Chuck wrote a piece a few weeks ago, saying this: “In a joint letter, first shared with NBC News, leaders from the federal agencies called the issue a “national youth mental health crisis” and encouraged states to carefully plan how they use block grants, Medicaid state plans, waivers and other resources that come from multiple federal agencies so they are being executed without duplication.” Anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and suicide among young children are all up sharply. This trend is here to stay.
So where does this leave us? Paul gives a very clear recipe, citing the first commandment to obey parents with a promise: “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Ephesians 6:3 ESV). But the very next verse, in my opinion, is by far the most important: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (vs. 4).
It’s evident that many of the mental health issues stem from abusive or unstable homes. As mental health issues among the young increase, there is a correlation in the rapid decline of membership in churches. This trend is strong and we need fathers to step up to the plate and instruct their children in the Lord. There is no reason why this many young children should be suffering irreparable harm. The numbers are too staggering for us to take a casual approach to the problem. We need to protect our children from abuses that they face and teach them to be strong disciples of Jesus!