In recent years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has done an inspiring job of addressing mental health issues among members. New resources have been released and the topic is more frequently addressed without shame or stigma. However, there is still much more to be done to help our brothers and sisters who struggle. Here are three things Latter-day Saints can do in their Church communities to address mental health issues.
Train leaders to recognize mental illness warning signs.
As the Church’s “Counseling Resources” states, Church leaders are not expected or encouraged to be mental health experts. However, we can provide more training to leaders so they better understand how to help members get the professional help they need. This includes how to more openly discuss mental illness and warning signs that someone may need help.
Here is a great resource for leaders who want to learn how to provide help to those with mental illnesses.
Complete ministering assignments.
Many good people around the world diligently complete their ministering assignments. However, there are equally as many who still need to find a testimony of this important gospel principle. We have been called to a higher and holier way of serving one another through ministering.
Mental illness often occurs in silence. The strongest among us secretly battle very dark days. It is easy to fall through the cracks if you don’t have a strong support system you can be vulnerable with. Ministering is a safeguard against this.
Reach out to your ministering friends today. If you know of someone who struggles, minister to them without an assignment and work with leaders to ensure they have the support they need. Become an advocate for those who have a hard time reaching out.
Sit more comfortably in suffering.
The gospel is all about optimism. So much good can come to our lives because of Jesus Christ. We never want to diminish these important truths. Even so, trying to inspire a cheery disposition in someone with a mental illness is anything but helpful.
As Church communities, we can do a better job at listening and empathizing without trying to fix the problem. Because mental health is tied so closely to our emotional experiences, we often fall into the trap of thinking righteous living will just solve the problem. This isn’t true. No amount of scripture study, prayer, or temple work can permanently change a diagnosable mental illness. We need to be comfortable with this and stop insisting if people worked harder they’d feel better.
These are just a few of the things we can do to better support those who struggle. What are some ways you’ve found to be helpful?