Can priesthood blessings cure mental illness?

As Latter-day Saints, we believe in spiritual gifts, including the gift of healing. Priesthood blessings can give us peace, guidance, and comfort—and healing—as we turn to our Savior for help. But anyone who has given or received a blessing is well aware that priesthood blessings are contingent on both our faith and God’s will.

God answers prayers differently according to our needs and his desires for us. Sometimes the answer to a request is “Yes.” Sometimes it is “No.” Sometimes the answer is more complex, like “Not yet,” “You need to learn from this,” or “Find a solution to try.” Two people in similar situations may receive different answers and different blessings. In Mosiah 21-24 we can compare God’s dealings with two groups who found themselves in bondage. The people of Limhi were held in captivity by Lamanites for nearly 20 years. After failed attempts to fight their way out, they prayed for escape. What they got instead was a lesson in humility and mercy in preparation for their conversion. They required spiritual deliverance before they were granted physical deliverance. When the people of Alma found themselves in a similar situation, they were blessed with encouragement and the strength to endure their trials until it was time for them to escape.

Blessings require effort on our part – faith and works. While we pray daily for health, strength, and safety, and fast for those who are sick and afflicted, we also keep the Word of Wisdom and take measures to promote good health and prevent illness. We administer to the sick, and we also seek appropriate medical care. The same should be true for our mental health as well. We don’t have to choose between priesthood blessings and psychological counseling, nor should we have to apologize for seeking the help we need. An inspired bishop may recommend counseling in addition to the spiritual and social support offered by the Church. When looking for a therapist, it is appropriate to prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance in finding one who will not only offer competent help, but who will support your standards and respect your faith.

While a priesthood blessing won’t necessarily cure or remove mental illness from one’s life it can still be a valuable source of strength, encouragement, guidance, comfort, and peace. Through such blessings, we can regain our assurance that the Lord knows us, is aware of us, and loves us. Blessings can guide us to the answers and help we need as we pass through this vale of tears and learn to trust in his perfect understanding.

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