“Ministering with Mental Health in Mind,” Liahona, August 2021
A young mother found herself struggling with depression. She worked with doctors to get her medication just right, but the process took time. One day was especially difficult, and she made an urgent appointment with her doctor. They decided together she should be admitted to the hospital.
Ward members came together to make visits, care for her children, and provide help with meals. During the weeks and months afterward, the woman’s depression made reaching out for help difficult, so ward members learned to take the initiative in offering support.
Later, the sister related that help came at inspired moments, just when it was most needed. She mentioned that one of the most valuable things that came from that time was knowing that her sisters and brothers cared about her and were there to support her. She felt the love of the Savior through the service of her ward members. She learned for herself that He was aware of her and her struggles and that with His help she could endure her challenges with faith.
Mental and emotional health issues are common, even if an emergency hospitalization isn’t going to be necessary for many. These challenges are likely to be found among members in every ward or branch. They can affect people of all nationalities and all walks of life.
As you minister, you will likely encounter someone with social or emotional difficulties. When you do, please consider the advice that President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, received: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”1 A mental, social, or emotional issue can be one reason someone may be struggling.
Here are some ideas of how to minister:
Listen to learn. Allow the person to share as much or as little information as he or she is comfortable communicating. You are supporting him or her by just listening; you may receive inspiration about ways to provide comfort. (For more ideas, see “Five Things Good Listeners Do,” Ensign or Liahona, June 2018, 6–9.)
Demonstrate compassion. Try to begin and end every interaction with a sincere expression of love and care for the person. (For more ideas, see “Reach Out in Compassion,” Ensign or Liahona, July 2018, 6–9.)
Provide support. Recovery from social or emotional difficulties is not simple and not easy. At times, he or she may wish for space or may ask for help. Provide support in the time and way the person is able to accept it. (For more ideas, see “Developing the Empathy to Minister,” Ensign or Liahona, Feb. 2019, 8–11.)
Counsel with leaders. You are not alone. Seek support from leaders and others. With permission, share the struggling person’s needs and possible ways others may be of service. (For more ideas, see “Getting Help to Help Others,” Ensign or Liahona, Oct. 2018, 6–9.)
Note: If the person to whom you are ministering is a danger to self or others, it may be necessary to involve appropriate authorities to help.