The teens of SOYO have requested us to work with them to create a Mental Health Awareness Committee.  They have asked that we do something meaningful to help remove the stigma associated with mental health issues so that teens in need will know how to seek help and guidance in this area if they themselves or someone they know are struggling in this area. It is the hope of the teens that this will help keep safe the youth of the Orthodox Church from substance abuse, unhealthy sexual activity, and self-harm. It is also the hope of this committee that this ministry may provide parents of teens who are struggling in this area with resources.
–    To educate on the relationship between our emotions and the spiritual life
–    Raising awareness and working to remove the stigma
–    How to recognize emotional struggles in ourselves and in others
–    How to help ourselves and others
–    To teach teens how to manage and respond to their emotional world
–    To bring relief to those teens who may be suffering silently
–    To decrease the isolation and loneliness that a teen might feel who struggles in this area

Focus/ Content
Understanding and dealing with how our emotional and spiritual lives are interconnected.
Utilizing Christ the Great Physician of our souls and bodies
Learning how our beliefs about ourselves and others affect our emotions
Learning how our thoughts affect emotions and our behavior
Learning healthy ways to respond to our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions

What is now happening:

The Teen Lighthouse Ministry

The Teen Lighthouse Ministry is a ministry being created by the Eastern Region Diocesan Executive board.  It was born out of asking the question: How do we keep SOYO relevant to teens, a necessity to parishes, and an invaluable part of a parish priest’s ministry?

The purpose of the ministry is to help renew and increase the relevancy of SOYO to the teens, parish priests, and the parishes.

The ministry will focus on and make use of what is perhaps SOYO greatest strength and trait in this day and age, that strength or trait is SOYO acting as a safehaven for teens from the stresses and pressures of their secular life. Each parish Teen Soyo has the potential to provide their parish teens with a safe place. A safe place to be who they are without fear of rejection, fear of failure, pressure to conform, or fear of humiliation. A lighthouse is a structure placed on a shore to help guide ships to safety and to prevent them from crashing onto the shore. Truly SOYO can serve the same purpose for teens as they navigate the struggles and temptations of being a teenager in today’s society.

This ministry will provide: Advertising materials with the above theme for parishes and priests to use to help draw in and recruit teens for Teen Soyo.
It will also provide a series of rap sessions for parishes to implement with their parish Teen Soyo.  The ministry will create the topics for the series of rap sessions consistent with the theme of SOYO as a safe haven for teens from the struggles of their secular lives. This ministry will also assist the NAC Mental Health Awareness Committee.


A Message to Parents and Teens – Mental Health Awareness – Fr Joshua Makoul