When to Consider Professional Help

“When to Consider Professional Help,” Counseling Resources (2020).

“When to Consider Professional Help,” Counseling Resources.

When to Consider Professional Help

Church leaders are not expected nor encouraged to be mental health experts. Yet individuals suffering from such conditions often turn to their leaders for help to know what to do.

While nearly everyone will experience some aspect of mental health challenges at various times in life, challenges can be debilitating. Persons with mild forms of some challenges will often respond to the suggestions outlined in the publication Adjusting to Missionary Life (pamphlet, 2013). Although this resource was prepared for missionaries, it helps identify ways any person can respond to challenges. In addition, empathetic support from you, family members, and others may help the individual through a mental health challenge.

However, if the person does not respond to these approaches, a mental health professional may need to provide an accurate diagnosis.

Below are some mental health issues that may require evaluation from a mental health professional and that members Church leaders may encounter in their wards or branches:

  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

  • Prolonged depressive mood

  • Inability to function in essential daily tasks

  • Despair, hopelessness, self-hatred

  • Cutting, mutilation, self-harm

  • Excessive fear of gaining weight; intense or extreme weight loss or weight gain

  • Uncontrollable compulsive or repetitive behaviors or speech

  • Obsessive or recurrent thoughts or impulses

  • Repeated confessions of minor issues

  • Uncontrollable fears, panic, or anxious thoughts

  • Isolation

  • Extreme mood or personality swings

  • Paranoia, delusions, hearing voices

  • Risky sexual behavior

  • Volatile behaviors (angry, violent, confrontational)

In these and other concerning situations, consider professional counseling as a possible option (see “Professional Counseling and Therapy,” General Handbook, 31.3.6). Church leaders can consult with Family Services (where available) or the area office to know how to help the individual and find resources.