RYM 076: What Can We Do About Student Anxiety As Youth Ministry Leaders?

Anxiety among middle school and high school students has been rising rapidly in recent years. In fact, anxiety disorders are now the most common mental illnesses among students, affecting about 25 percent of all teens—and these are just the reported cases. That’s why this week, we sit down with Licensed Professional Counselor, Kayla Lin, along with Sara Shelton and Marquise Cox, to talk about why student anxiety is on the rise and what we can do as youth leaders to walk with and support students struggling with anxiety right now.

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  • What today’s statistics say about anxiety among students (1:21)
  • What anxiety is and how it’s different from stress (3:05)
  • What today’s podcast guests have seen among their students in terms of anxiety trends (6:09)
  • What causes student anxiety (8:57)
  • Why saying “Just get over it” diminishes a student’s experience (12:22)
  • The difference between anxiety and depression (15:21)
  • Why anxiety is increasing among students (17:19)
  • The difference between a phase and a pattern with anxiety (19:45)
  • How students cope with anxiety (20:28)
  • How to tell the difference between a phase versus a deep response to anxiety (25:52)
  • What responsibilities leaders have to address student anxiety issues (29:11)
  • What a win looks like when leading students with anxiety (35:12)
  • Resources available for leaders and parents (39:55)


Website: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Website: Georgia Crisis and Access Line

Resource: RYM 011: What To Do When A Student Self-Harms

Resource: RYM 012: Navigating Mental Health And Suicide In Your Ministry

Our student series about anxiety for middle schoolers and high schoolers are only available through our Winter 2019 season of curriculum. Not a subscriber yet? Visit GetOrangeFree.com to try our curriculum for FREE!


We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and this episode! To join the conversation, leave us a comment here on our episode page or in our Facebook Group. Not a member of our Facebook Group yet? Click the button below to join!




CJ is the Managing Editor for XP3 High School at Orange and one of the hosts and producers of Rethinking Youth Ministry, a podcast raising the bar for student leaders everywhere. CJ has been leading small groups for middle school students at North Point Community Church since 2007, which means he’s probably spent more time talking to middle schoolers than adults in his life. He also placed 5th in his 8th grade class field day fun run. CJ and his wife, Teri, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, with their son, Harley, and their robot vacuum, Barbara.


Kayla Lin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia and a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a credential awarded by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She earned a Master of Education in Professional Counseling from the University of Georgia. Kayla specializes in helping clients who are suffering with trauma, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, identity, grief/loss, and self-worth. Outside of counseling, Kayla enjoys hiking/backpacking, riding horses, baking home goods, and spending time with her friends, family, and her two dogs.


Marquise serves as a host, speaker, and groups director for North Point Ministries in Atlanta, and is a regular contributor to Orange’s XP3 High School curriculum. Marquise’s primary goal as he travels around the country speaking to the next generation is to help every student find their identity in Jesus. His personal life mantra is that “Jesus changes everything!” When Marquise isn’t on the road speaking, he’s doing life with his bride Krystal, hanging with high school students, or binge-watching his favorite shows on Netflix.



Sara Shelton is a writer and communicator who has been serving in student and small group ministry since 2006. She serves as both a writer and editor for the XP3 Middle and High School teams. Sara is passionate about helping girls find freedom and identity in Jesus and equipping other leaders to help their students do the same. (And brunch . . . she’s also really passionate about brunch.) In her free time, you can find Sara at the movies, spending time with friends, or trying to cross the next travel adventure off her bucket list.

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Orange Conference 2018