This blog is an attempt to bridge the gap between two important parts of my life: my life as an active Latter-day Saint and my life as a counseling psychologist. While these two roles fit neatly together for me, I have found that these two communities I belong to don’t seem to know and understand each other very well. Each has its worldview (and purview), and given the difficulties of selective history, persistent misconceptions, and a general sense of distrust between the two, it is easy for these two communities to have a distorted view of each other.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately one in four adults in the general population has a diagnosable mental disorder at any given time, while approximately 6% of the population (one in seventeen adults) suffers from severe mental illness. That’s likely just as true for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as for the general population. Given the closeness and intertwined relationships within the LDS community, most of us will either experience mental illness, be related to someone who suffers from mental illness, or be in a position in which we are teaching, serving, or leading others who have or are affected by mental illness. However, certain beliefs and customs make mental illness and its repercussions especially stigmatizing and difficult to discuss openly.
I believe that Mormons can benefit from having a better understanding of mental health issues, the ability to talk about them openly, and knowledge of the resources available to help those affected by such issues. And perhaps, by having a better understanding of Latter-day Saints, mental health practitioners will better be able to reach and serve the LDS population.
Finally, I do believe that while pain and suffering are a very real part of the human condition, they are not the point of our existence. “Men are that they might have joy” – not just in the far-off future of the eternities, but in this life as well. Mortal life won’t ever be perfect, but with help, even those who suffer can find joy and meaning in their journeys.
Please join me as I explore some of the issues and questions surrounding mental health from an LDS perspective.