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Blessed Youth: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness with Children and Teens

SKU 9780827203204

By Sarah Griffith Lund

Also available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Books-A-Million

“Thank you to Sarah for this timely, practical, personal book about youth and mental health. From a faith perspective, it is exactly the kind of reading that faith leaders, parents/guardians, educators, and even youth themselves can read and put into use in every day life.  As a minister and parent myself, it is encouraging and refreshing to hear her voice speaking out on the importance of Mental Health.”— Rev. Catherine Stuart, Regional Minister for Children, Youth, and Young Adults, The United Church of Canada

Parenting from childhood through adolescence and into early adulthood is a daunting task, made more so by the unpredictable turns and challenges every family faces.

Being able to be honest and real about these challenges can help you provide stability to children facing mental health related issues, allowing them to flourish.

Through vivid and powerful storytelling, Blessed Youth: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness with Children and Teens will remove the barriers of stigma and shame associated with mental illness in children and teens.

Readers will know they are not alone and be reminded of God’s grace and loving presence in the midst of the heartache and struggle of mental illness. In addition to stories of children and youth experiencing mental health challenges, Blessed Youth includes practical resources such as prayers and a guide for having age-appropriate talks with children about warning signs and how to get help for themselves and friends. Ultimately, this important resource offers hope and help for everyone who loves a child or youth with mental health challenges.


“Sarah Griffith Lund draws on the wisdom of experience, expert insight and a profound faith in the immense value of our youth to spur us to action on destigmatizing mental illness. She gives us tools to carve a path forward to mental health for babies, children, teens, parents, families and the institutions and professionals who care for them. If you are searching for the words to talk to and about youth and mental health, Sarah leads by example. Blessed Youth is a book for parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, mental health clinicians, everyone and anyone who cares about making the future brighter for a generation facing so much. It is past time we value children's mental health as much as we do their physical, academic and social achievements. What a gift it would be if their inheritance was the world Sarah paints for us.” — Ellen O’Donnell, PhD, Child Psychologist and Author of Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World

“Sarah has gently captured the heart of how trauma and adversity impact the individual, family and community. Thus, her book helps us to break away from the toxic stigma of mental illness and reminds us that as school, organization, or church, we have the responsibility and honor to sit beside one another and be deeply present as our stories are shared and validated, and to remember that the wonderous connection to self, others, our world, and faith moves us from protection to growth.” —Lori Desautels, Assistant Professor, Butler University College of Education

“Through personal stories and solid research, Sarah Griffith Lund draws our attention to mental illness in young people and families and suggests concrete things that all of us—family members, friends, parents, pastors, and teachers—can do to help support those in our lives who deal with mental illness. With crisp writing and lots of first-hand accounts, this book gives insight into what it means to have mental illness or to care for someone who does. This is a helpful resource and introduction to a topic that needs more attention.” —Robert J. Keeley, Professor of Education, Calvin University, author of Helping Our Children Grow in Faith

“In Sarah Griffith Lund's new book, Blessed Youth, she does what she set out to do: she breaks the silence about mental illness in young people. And she does so in what she calls a love letter to her niece Sydney, who died by suicide in 2020. Lund's book is accessible and gentle even though dealing with a topic that adults who love teenagers may not know much about and might even fear. Right from the very beginning of the book, she offers insights, stories, and suggestions for action while answering the question, ‘are the children OK?’ Although the answer to that question is a resounding, ‘No!’ Lund offers so much hope. This hope is founded on the promise that although the children are struggling mightily, they also know what they need. And we adults have the capacity to do much better by them. This book can help us figure out where to start.”— Dr. Emily Peck-McClain, Professor of Christian Faith Formation and Youth at Wesley Theological Seminary and author of Arm in Arm with Adolescent Girls: Educating into the New Creation

“In this important and grounded book, Lund opens up new spaces for understanding mental health and ill-health within the lives of children and teenagers. She pushes us to understand the complexities of mental health, and through a series of fascinating and moving stories,  Sarah offers vital theological and practical strategies that can enable us to embody the love and Grace of God in our ministry with young people. Sarah Lund knows what she is talking about.”— Dr. John Swinton, Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care at Aberdeen University, United Kingdom

“We are living in an unprecedented time where youth have so many social, academic and internal pressures that demand attention and excellence from them. There’s no wonder that we are facing a mental health crisis amongst our young people. Rev. Sarah Lund opens the door for caregivers of various backgrounds and youth to have honest dialogue and seek professional help where needed. By weaving together her personal and professional experiences with mental health, Lund invites all of us to see ways we can be a partner on the journey for those we love and care for. Blessed Youth is easy to read, understand and engage with.”— Rev. Trayce L. Potter, UCC Minister for Youth & Young Adult Engagement

“In her book, Blessed Youth: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness with Children and Teens, Sarah Griffith Lund not only provides resources and actionable tools for youth, families, educators and faith communities, but she also provides poignant stories from individuals who have their own lived experience as loved ones who are caregivers and professionals. This work, dedicated to her late niece Sydney, who died by suicide, is also personal in nature for Rev. Dr. Lund. Her passion is evident as she shares her own reflections of losing a loved one who was and always be a Beloved child of God."­—Karl Shallowhorn, mental health advocate, educator, speaker, and coach 

“Sarah's clarion call to offer understanding and compassion to individuals struggling with mental illness and her reminder that we do not have to be alone in this struggle is the voice we all need to hear when it comes to mental health. Her ability to weave personal story alongside practical ideas and guidance is truly Spirit-led.  The invitation to provide safe (blessed) spaces in our churches, families, and schools along with her insistence that we empower youth themselves for this work is a message that can, and will, change lives.”—Rev. Patricia S. Watson, Associate Pastor, First Saints Community Church, Mental Health First Aid Instructor

“What do you do now that mental illness has broken into your home like a thief in the night and robbed your child of joy?” “How can we live in a world where there are twelve youth suicides every day?” These are the hard questions that Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund addresses with wisdom and compassion in Blessed Youth.  Breaking the shame and silence around mental illness, she identifies best practices to guide pastors, parents and grieving communities of faith. Speaking from the heart, without judgement, Lund models the ministry of presence for all who suffer, and all who mourn.”— Dr. Felicity Kelcourse, Associate Professor, Christian Theological Seminary and author, Human Development and Faith: Life-cycle Stages of Body, Mind and Soul

“Sarah Lund exhorts and equips us to listen closely to the stories of young people struggling with mental health challenges. She writes with the wisdom of a pastor, the love of a parent, and the knowledge that comes from firsthand experience. This timely resource is important for ministers, parents, teachers, and anyone who cares about the mental well-being of young people.”— Michael Paul Cartledge II, Institute for Youth Ministry, Princeton Theological Seminary

“Our kids are not okay. Our children and youth are hurting!” Those who know this are also hurting. This honest book shakes us out of any lethargy we might have about the plight of our youth’s mental health. It is a crisis. The personal stories told and solid research bear witness to that reality. As a tribute to Sarah’s sixteen-year-old niece, Sydney, who died by suicide, this book underscores that ‘to tell the true story is to heal.’ This is both a touching way to start our conversation as well as to enrich those who have already been moved by experiences of mental illness. What do you need to know?  How do you need to act in order to help?  Sarah offers specific steps to take and resources to use to address the silence about mental illness, and above all things, to support the mental health of our youth. The book tangibly engages us in our families, in our schools, and in our faith communities to embrace our youth with our listening, our understanding, and with our actions.  Weaving stories with information and compassionate action will touch everyone who reads this compelling book.”— Rev. Alan Johnson, co-founder of the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness