Mental Health & Young People Day

Supporting children & young people’s mental health in the church, home and community

There is a growing awareness in our society of the many challenges which affect the mental health of children and young people. In our families, communities and our churches, we want to create places of safety and support for younger people facing these challenges but we often don't really know what to do for the best. This study day will encourage us to think about how we might respond to the mental health needs of children and young people, and those who care for them.

This day is open to all those in churches and other organisations who want to make their communities safe and supportive places for children and young people with mental health challenges and to support those who care for them.

The day will run from 10am-3pm on Saturday 30th March 2019 at South St Baptist Church in Exeter. To find out more and to book, please click here.



Session 1 – Introduction: Getting our Foundations Right

  • Understanding how to support our children and young people through our churches and youth groups.
  • Understanding stress and anxiety: where they come from, and how we can equip our children and young people to manage them well.


Session 2 – Going Deeper and Wider: Seminar Streams

1a – Eating Disorders

How can we best support children and young people with eating disorders? Where can we look for help and what can we do to support the parents of those with eating disorders...

1b – Understanding the Impact of Trauma

‘Adverse Life Experiences’ have an especially large impact on children and young people as it changes the way they develop. In this session we’ll look at the challenges those with a history of trauma face and how to support them well.

2a – Positive Mental Health: How to help children and young people have a better emotional well being by encouraging them to be who they are.

We often talk about the tools and skills that can help us to cope with difficult circumstances in life. This session offers a positive approach to mental health by encouraging us to help young people use and develop their natural strengths to have a better emotional well being.

2b – Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts

The rates of self-harm and reports of suicidal thoughts amongst our children and young people continue to rise. In this session we’ll try to understand what individuals facing these challenges are going through and how we can support them in a way that can make a difference.


Session 3 – Providing an Environment that Equips, Enables, and Empowers

  • How to create safe spaces for our children and young people
  • Top 10 ‘Dos and Don’ts’
  • Good Signposting and Resources


Q & A – Time to respond to questions left on the ‘Question Wall’


Matt Merriam is passionate about helping people of all ages follow Jesus when life is hard. He has spent over a decade supporting individuals who are struggling with significant mental illness in his community through his work as a church planter and leader in Yeovil. For the last six years he has also worked with South West Youth Ministries, teaching and training the next generation of youth and children’s workers. Matt lives in Yeovil with his wife and three children.

Matt Merriam

Dawn Holmes writes,

“I live in Somerset with my husband and we have 5 grown-up children in various stages of leaving home!I have been interested in mental health for a while and after family and friends spoke to me about the varying reactions they were getting from their churches I felt it was time to write a book about it! 175 anonymous surveys and 20 or so personal stories later I felt equipped to start writing.It’s my prayer that as we understand more about mental health issues and seek to truly love, support and encourage people, we will see the church becoming the safest place for those with mental illnesses to find the love and compassion of Christ, to find hope. A place where people are freed from shame.”

Read more about Dawn's work here.

Dawn Holmes