In 2005, Elder Alexander B. Morrison, an Emeritus General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a general conference talk addressing “Myths about Mental Illness.” This talk should be required reading for everyone, especially leaders and teachers in the Church. The following are seven myths about mental illness that he identifies.
MYTH #1: All mental illness is caused by sin.
MYTH #2: Someone is to blame for mental illness.
MYTH #3: All that people with mental illness need is a priesthood blessing.
MYTH #4: Mentally ill persons just lack willpower.
MYTH #5: All mentally ill persons are dangerous and should be locked up.
MYTH #6: Mental illness doesn’t strike children and young people.
MYTH #7: Whatever the cause, mental illness is untreatable.
I will address these myths in more detail in upcoming posts.
Besides refuting these myths, Elder Morrison emphasizes that those who are affected by mental illness need our love, support, and fellowship. These myths imply judgment, misunderstanding, self-righteousness, and blame—the last thing anyone in pain needs heaped upon their suffering. Instead, those afflicted by mental illness need our acceptance, patience, forgiveness, empathy, help, encouragement, understanding, and love.
When we are baptized, we promise to bear one another’s burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort (see Mosiah 18:8-9). Those who live with the burden of mental illness need our love and comfort as much as—if not more than—any other of God’s children. I hope that through this blog, I can share my knowledge and understanding of mental illness, and that together we will be able to reduce stigma and increase compassion for those who suffer from or are affected by mental illness and find ways to comfort, serve, and help as the Savior would if he were here.