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A year ago, we were praying that we could meet up with friends and family again. We were on lockdown. We were waiting for our elected leaders to tell us it was okay to go outside without a mask or social distancing.

Fast forward to today. While there may be some loosening of the mask restrictions and social distancing guidelines thanks to the distribution of a vaccine, we are still uncertain of what the future holds for us or if we can ever truly return to “normal” life.

The pandemic has challenged every one of us in many ways. But after considering how we personally are affected and how school children are affected, one group that often gets overlooked is young people who are no longer in high school. Never before have they had to live through such a major historical moment. As a result, the mental health of many young people is suffering.

How can you, a faith leader, serve young people effectively at this crucial moment?

The answer is to address their personal needs and learn ways to respond with empathy to their mental state.

To help you with this, the Reformed Church in America is partnering with the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan to offer the faith-based be nice. mental health training process on Tuesday, May 18, 1:00–4:00 p.m. EDT.

“During this three-hour training, faith leaders will learn how to dialogue around dismantling the stigma surrounding anxiety and depression and other mental health illnesses. Participants will be equipped with the be nice. action plan to better help them walk alongside the people entrusted to their care,” says Annalise Radcliffe, Next Generation Engagement team coordinator.

The be nice. action plan is a tool for the larger community to increase positive understanding of mental health, as well as a tool for individuals in one-on-one conversations.

“The church is where healing, love and vulnerability, a welcoming spirit should live, but it is often where the most hurt and alienation happens. We want churches to be a safe haven for people; we start by destigmatizing mental health concerns. Being the hands and feet of Jesus means coming alongside people in every season of life,” says Ruth Langkamp, Next Generation Engagement program specialist.

This training is for any leader who needs a starting point in leading difficult conversations with empathy and care with the next generation around mental health.

Registration is available by clicking here.