(Photo / “Depression” by Ryan Melaugh/ CC BY 2.0)

NASHVILLE (BP)—Child advocate and mental health consultant Kelly Rosati has spent her fair share of time in psychiatric hospitals—not for herself, but visiting her kids.

She and her husband adopted all four of their children out of foster care. Three suffer on some level from mental illness—depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

During a parenting conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, she and other experts discussed how the church should approach ministry to teens and children who suffer from mental illness, as well as how to serve their families.

Kelly Rosati

Rosati, Focus on the Family’s vice president of advocacy for children, wants to debunk the notion mental health is a spiritual issue—particularly for others, like her, who struggle to parent kids who have been diagnosed with mental illness.

“It’s harmful for the church to tell people who suffer from mental illness and their families to pray harder,” Rosati said. “Don’t tell someone whose brain isn’t working to pray a little harder. Don’t confuse parenting with getting professional help.”

Rosati notes 20 percent of teens will experience depression before adulthood—and those teens are 12 times more likely to die by suicide.

Parkland tragedy

Ever since 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz—a teen diagnosed with depression—opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, the national conversation has turned toward several factors that…

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Mayra Rodriguez

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