Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: A Field Guide for Catholic Parents, Pastors, and Youth Leaders

Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: A Field Guide for Catholic Parents, Pastors, and Youth Leaders

by Roy Petitfils


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Winner of a 2020 Excellence in Publishing Award from the Association of Catholic Publishers (second place, ministry); 2020 Catholic Press Association book award (second place, family life).

Do you struggle to know when or if it’s appropriate to step in to help a teen who seems stressed, anxious, or depressed? Do you know the signs to look for to determine whether a teen is in distress?

In Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Roy Petitfils—a Catholic author, speaker, and psychotherapist—offers his personal experience, advice, and faith to give parents, pastors, and youth leaders the knowledge, courage, and tools they need to step in, make a difference, and be the presence of Christ for teens in crisis.

Roy Petitfils knows what it’s like to be an addicted, depressed teenager, filled with self-loathing and desperate for help. He describes himself at high school graduation as by far the largest person in his hometown and yet feeling as though he were “stuck in Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.” Weighing more than 500 pounds, he was addicted to food and hated himself.

Now a leading Catholic voice in youth advocacy and creator of the popular podcast Today’s Teenager, Petitfils entered adulthood a very different person than he is today. His life was radically changed by a handful of people in college who reached out in friendship and helped him set a new course.

Using personal life lessons and expertise gleaned from more than twenty-five years in youth ministry and private practice as a licensed counselor, Petitfils teaches parents, pastors, and youth leaders what they need to know about mental health issues among America’s youth. Whether teens need help coping with healthy levels of stress or face persistent, more serious problems with anxiety and depression, Petitfils will help the adults in their lives get comfortable with stepping in.

Petitfils offers information and advice on:

  • the major causes of stress and anxiety in teens today
  • differentiating healthy stress from toxic stress
  • simple steps to take after identifying a hurting kid, beginning with how to assess whether and how to step in
  • the art of listening

He explores the support and comfort available through the sacraments, Catholic devotions, different forms of prayer, and reading the Bible. Ultimately, Petitfils identifies how to gently, yet persuasively guide hurting young people to deeper trust in the tender mercies of God.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594718892
Publisher: Ave Maria Press
Publication date: 03/08/2019
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Roy Petitfils is a Catholic author, speaker, and psychotherapist in private practice.

His books include What Teens Want You to Know (But Won’t Tell You),What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage, God Wears Running Shoes, and A Practical Guide to High School Campus Ministry.

Petitfils has more than twenty-five years of experience ministering to youth and young adults in parishes, dioceses, and schools. He has spoken to youths and adults in more than seventy-five dioceses in the United States and Canada, and has given keynote addresses at numerous national and regional conferences, including USCCB Convocation of Catholic Leaders, NCCYM, and NCYC. Petitfils also spoke at TEDx in 2016 and is host of the popular Today’s Teenager Podcast.

He has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. Joseph Seminary College. He did graduate work in spirituality and theology at Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and earned a master’s degree in community and school counseling from the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Petitfils lives in Lafayette, Louisiana, with his wife Mindi, and their children.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

With a Grateful Heart xvii

Part I Our Field of Engagement

1 How Big Is the Problem? 3

2 Should I Step In? 12

3 How Can I Help? 24

Part II The Tools of Engagement

4 Understanding Stress 33

5 Recognizing Anxiety and Depression 46

6 Avoiding the Undue Pressures of Success 61

7 Using the Roadmap of Catholic Faith 74

8 Learning the Art of Listening 89

9 Finding Help for the Helper 108

10 Heeding the Call of the Good Samaritan 129

Notes 137

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