Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression A Field Guide for Catholic Parents, Pastors, and Youth Leaders 

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A Field Guide for Catholic Parents, Pastors, and Youth Leaders 
Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Do you struggle to know when or if it’s appropriate to step in to help a teen who seems stressed, anxious, or depressed? Do you know the signs to look for to determine whether a teen is in distress?

In Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Roy Petitfils—a Catholic author, speaker, and psychotherapist—offers his personal experience, advice, and faith to give parents, pastors, and youth leaders the knowledge, courage, and tools they need to step in, make a difference, and be the presence of Christ for teens in crisis.

Roy Petitfils knows what it’s like to be an addicted, depressed teenager, filled with self-loathing and desperate for help. He describes himself at high school graduation as by far the largest person in his hometown and yet feeling as though he were “stuck in Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.” Weighing more than 500 pounds, he was addicted to food and hated himself.

Now a leading Catholic voice in youth advocacy and creator of the popular podcast Today’s Teenager, Petitfils entered adulthood a very different person than he is today. His life was radically changed by a handful of people in college who reached out in friendship and helped him set a new course. 

Using personal life lessons and expertise gleaned from more than twenty-five years in youth ministry and private practice as a licensed counselor, Petitfils teaches parents, pastors, and youth leaders what they need to know about mental health issues among America’s youth. Whether teens need help coping with healthy levels of stress or face persistent, more serious problems with anxiety and depression, Petitfils will help the adults in their lives get comfortable with stepping in.

Petitfils offers information and advice on:

  • the major causes of stress and anxiety in teens today
  • differentiating healthy stress from toxic stress
  • simple steps to take after identifying a hurting kid, beginning with how to assess whether and how to step in
  • the art of listening

He explores the support and comfort available through the sacraments, Catholic devotions, different forms of prayer, and reading the Bible. Ultimately, Petitfils identifies how to gently, yet persuasively guide hurting young people to deeper trust in the tender mercies of God. 

Additional Features

Digital Resources

In each chapter you’ll find a few opportunities to discover additional content. These resources may be videos, PDF files, or a more detailed description of the topic being considered. For the majority who will be reading a paperback in their hands, the exact links will be offered in the chapter notes.

Key Points to Ask Yourself

Each chapter will conclude with what the author believes are the key points. These aren’t the only key points, but they are at least a few. Look them over and don’t be afraid to add to them. In addition, take a few minutes to reflect on the questions at the end of each chapter. You might consider writing your responses as a way of deepening your learning.

Scripture & Prayers

Scripture passages are provided to offer the following:

  • Hope. Sometimes knowing that what we’re experiencing with a young person is talked about in scripture gives us hope. It can help knowing that our unique experiences also have a common element shared by others who have gone before us.
  • Encouragement. God’s Word can help us to press on when we feel discouraged and are tempted to give up.
  • Opportunity for prayer. Take a moment or two to pray with the passage and listen to what God might be saying uniquely to you and your situation.

Product Preview

Format: Paperback book
Product code: AM718892
Dimensions: 5½" x 8½"
Length: 160 pages
Ave Maria Press
ISBN: 978-1-59471-889-2
1-2 copies $14.36 each
3-5 copies $13.56 each
6+ copies $12.76 each
Written by Roy Petitfils


"This is a wonderful guide to help us be more confident and competent as we accompany teens."
Mike Patin
Catholic speaker, facilitator, and consultant
It is hard to navigate the difference between teenage woes and deeper issues that need attention. In this practical and information-packed book, Roy Petitfils gives adults an in-depth look at how to recognize when teens are in trouble then step in to help with effective tools from best practices in mental health care and the rich spiritual traditions of the Catholic Church.
Elizabeth Madeo
Director of Faith Formation at Annunciation Parish
Roy Petitfils not only outlines the challenges we face while helping young souls, but also provides a practical road map for anyone to help and guide teens who are struggling. The result is a valuable tool for every parent, pastor, and youth leader charged with leading young souls to freedom and, ultimately, to heaven. This is a great gift to our Church.
Mark Hart
Executive Vice President at Life Teen International