Colorado Springs Church Steps Into Teen Mental Health Crisis
The state of Colorado has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the country, with El Paso county, home of Colorado Springs, experiencing the highest rates in the state.
El Paso County has called upon community leaders to implement suicide prevention strategies in schools, businesses, and faith-based groups. As one of these key influencers, churches are well-positioned yet often under-equipped to handle the magnitude of the mental health crisis.
Thankfully, many church leaders are starting to seek out the necessary training to step into these gaps. At My Quiet Cave, we’re seeing firsthand the life-changing power behind church leadership being equipped to reach hurting teens and families through specialized resources and training.
John Redmon is one such leader.
In October 2020, John began volunteering as a youth leader at the Colorado Springs Central SDA Church alongside Kelly Ochs, his friend from a neighboring Baptist church.
John and Kelly both have an inspiring passion for youth, yet they found it hard to break through to their group on a relational level. For the first year, their youth meetings mostly consisted of John and Kelly talking to an unresponsive group of 12- to 21-year-olds looking like they were dragged there by their parents.
Until one day last Fall, when there was a young lady whose vulnerability changed the trajectory of this group.
Cecilia* raised her hand and broke down crying as she shared that one of her classmates had just died by suicide. This had been the first experience of suicide that hit close to home for her, and she didn’t know how to deal with it.
Immediately after she was done sharing, another hand went up as a student shared they were struggling with depression, then another whose 12-year-old sister was recently admitted to an inpatient mental health treatment center… it was a domino effect. After that brave young lady went first in sharing, the floodgates burst and the hurt and hopelessness came pouring out.
After hearing eight of these testimonies back to back, John, Kelly, and one of the interim pastors looked at each other and knew that these kids were not in a good place. They went out that morning with a new and urgent mission, praying and searching for resources to help them support the teens in a whole new way.
John started reaching out to friends that he knew were involved in Christian counseling to see if anyone could help provide therapy, counseling, or seminars.
During his search, he was directed to My Quiet Cave, where he learned about our Fearless program, which equips churches to lead strengths-based support groups for teens.
*Name has been changed to protect the student’s identity.
Fearless Program’s Effect on the Teens
Never one to skip a beat, John jumped into My Quiet Cave’s facilitator training and, together with his team, launched a Fearless group shortly thereafter. He celebrates how the Fearless curriculum helped them create a beautiful community where teens feel like they belong. A place where they can openly talk about real life struggles in the context of their faith, while gaining valuable tools for navigating relationships and mental health.
My Quiet Cave’s facilitator training helped John and his team learn how to listen and give the teens the space to share rather than relying on instruction. They learned strategies for creating a safe place where the group began to truly connect. The kids could relate to what one another were saying and reply, “Me too!” They were no longer feeling alone in their struggles.
It got to a point where after the Fearless sessions were over, the students would hang around an extra 30-45 minutes because they just enjoyed the fellowship so much. They didn’t want to go home, they didn’t want to leave, and they didn’t want to leave one another’s presence because they were so connected.
John says that going through the My Quiet Cave facilitator training helped him become more in tune with what these kids are going through and what’s going on in their homes. John and Kelly were consistently showing up every Saturday and making themselves available in any way possible… and the teens were starting to open up and reach out.
John remembers one night when a young man called him at midnight to ask a question about life after death. John reflects, “I have to wake up, you know, when these kids call. You better wake up, forget sleep, and I was like, ‘Open your Bible. Do you have a Bible near you?’… But, at the end of the day, they just want to know if there’s anybody out there who cares.”
Fearless Program’s Effect on the Family
Cecilia was among the teens who were struggling the most. She shared that her mom couldn’t recognize the depth of the pain she was experiencing. When Cecilia would share that she was having a bad day, her mom would respond, “You’re young. It’ll pass.” That was not the answer that Cecilia needed because she really wanted to go to sleep and not wake up the next morning.
In the Fearless group, Cecilia found a place where she felt understood, safe, and connected enough to work through her suicidal thoughts. She also learned practical skills for being able to identify her emotions, express her needs, and reach out for help. And by the grace of God, one Saturday the pastor made an appeal, and she walked up and gave her heart to Jesus. A month later, both Cecilia and her mother got baptized.
Cecilia’s grandmother even reached out to John to ask what kind of support the church can offer for adults, because she saw the life-changing power of the kind of group experience her granddaughter was experiencing. Now John has it on his radar to start training up a team to lead My Quiet Cave’s mental wellness groups for adults as well. Parents and grandparents are seeing the impact and looking for answers themselves.
Fearless Program’s Effect on the Community
By watching how the teens were responding to Fearless, people in John’s church were now realizing, even from the pastoral and administrative level, that they needed to address this from the pulpit to the pew, and everywhere in between.
John received one text message from his pastor saying, “John, I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I like the work that you do with the youth and dealing with mental illness… I’m about to go visit a young lady who’s a member of our church, and she just attempted suicide. I’m tired of this. There’s something we need to do as a church.”
John was so excited to see the seeds planted and beginning to grow, thanking God that people’s eyes were starting to be opened not just to the need but to the opportunities to step in and serve. He pitched to his pastor about taking Fearless to the community. Going to get the kids from the community. Knocking on doors and sharing with the parents how they’re offering mental wellness support for young people. Letting them know that if their kids are ever suffering from depression, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, then we can help them and it’s free. What a beautiful opportunity for their church to love and serve the community!
Fearless is opening doors for a powerful new ministry in Colorado Springs.
Fearless Program’s Effect on the Facilitators
“After My Quiet Cave Fearless facilitation training and group sessions, my life will never be the same.”
The impact on John’s own life through leading a Fearless group has been immeasurable.
We asked John to share how it had affected him personally:
“One of the lessons that Fearless impacted me to the point where I was choking up going through it was the one on identity… What I got out of it was, ‘Don’t let society and your pain and the things you went through form who you are. Let God’s word tell you who you are.’… And so when I was able to connect with that lesson and make it my own personal testimony, it was so much easier to convey why I believe what I believe so, again, that’s helped me again, personally. So, this Fearless was not for the youth only, it was for us as well.”
John’s advice to other youth pastors:
“My advice is: don’t wait another minute. Just jump into My Quiet Cave today. Yesterday would have been a better day. It’s just that serious when it comes to mental illness and wellness and emotional wellness for our kids, for our society, for adults, for parents and singles… we want everybody to be okay.
We want them to be emotionally well, physically well, spiritually well, mentally well, and My Quiet Cave has the tools for you to actually go on and facilitate your own sessions where you can actually help those in your community, those in your family, those in your church to be okay.”
What is Fearless?
Fearless is a strengths-based program designed to help young people pursue mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual wellness.
This eight-week group experience provides teenagers with a safe space to explore the concept of wellness in the context of their faith. Topics include: Wellness, Identity, Managing Anxiety, Self-Care, Healthy Boundaries, and more.
In combination with My Quiet Cave’s comprehensive facilitator training, this program creates a safe space for teenagers to seek out stability and wellness in the context of their own backgrounds and beliefs while providing a biblical foundation for understanding our identity and worth.
Ideal for youth group settings, Fearless affirms our innate value in Christ and equips teens with practical skills to overcome challenges and thrive in the midst of a changing world.
You can learn more about My Quiet Cave’s programs here.
How Can I Help?
Mental and emotional health struggles deeply impact individuals, families, and communities. No matter where we live, we can choose to step in and begin ministering to this need through Christ-centered mental health support groups.
Every group requires at least two trained facilitators, and My Quiet Cave provides comprehensive training to help facilitators launch groups throughout the United States.
Today, you can help equip brand new facilitators to launch Fearless groups in our churches and communities!
It doesn’t take much…
Your gift of $10 per month can change the lives of up to 24 students every year, as well as impacting the lives of their parents, friends, and community.
Your gift of $25 per month can impact up to 60 students each year!
We want to partner with you in any way you can! Please consider donating to our Fearless facilitator training program today.
Click here to make a one-time or recurring donation, and start creating safe spaces of hope for teens in our communities!
Author: Katie Radcliff | Interviewer: Heather Phipps | Editor: Joanna Jackson
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or struggling with mental health or substance misuse, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. There is hope. There is help. You matter.
My Quiet Cave partners with Soul Shop certified instructors to provide suicide prevention training as part of our facilitator training program.