Mental Health

“Mental Health,” Counseling Resources (2020).

“Mental Health,” Counseling Resources.

Mental Health

Mental health affects our thoughts, emotions, behavior, and relationships. Those who develop mental health challenges or illness can be impaired in their ability to cope with the routines and demands of daily life. Such conditions are often emotionally draining and confusing for the individual as well as for loved ones and leaders attempting to minister to the afflicted person.

Those who are not mental health professionals are not expected or encouraged to diagnose or provide treatment to individuals struggling with mental health issues. When individuals do not seem to respond to normal attempts by leaders to be helpful, no one should be offended by their lack of response. Instead, leaders should seriously consider encouraging the individual to get a mental health assessment from a qualified provider (see General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [2020], 31.2.6). Family Services (where available) is able to provide consultation and offer suggestions to leaders about mental health assessment resources in the community. Leaders should refer to the “Mental Illness” in the Disabilities Resources section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org for more information about mental illness.

Seek to Understand

As you discuss mental health concerns, make sure to show love and empathy as the Savior would. If the person has reached out for help, thank her or him for asking for help. Because every situation is different and each person’s circumstances vary, prayerfully consider asking the person questions like these and then listen to the Spirit to help you better understand his or her concerns and discern his or her needs.

  • Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition? If so, how long have you had the condition? How does it affect your employment and family relationships?

  • What are your greatest concerns or worries right now?

  • What (if any) care are you receiving from a mental health care provider? Are you following the instructions from your provider, and are you comfortable with the care you are receiving?

  • Do you feel your mental health condition is improving, staying the same, or getting worse?

  • How are you coping with your condition?

  • How do your family members handle your condition? Have they suggested anything you’re not currently doing that you think may be helpful?

  • What sources of support do you have?

  • Have you received insights from Heavenly Father about your condition? If so, what were those insights?

With the individual’s permission, and being respectful of the individual’s feelings, consider contacting family members for further insight into the issue.

Help the Individual

As you help the individual understand how their challenges are affecting their lives, consider using some of the following suggestions:

Reassure the person that Heavenly Father loves her or him and that the Savior understands her or his challenges.

  • Help the person understand that mental illness is not a punishment from God.

  • Help the person realize that mental illness cannot be overcome by willpower alone. Mental illness does not indicate that a person lacks faith, character, or worthiness.

Include the person in Church activities and appropriate service opportunities.

  • Consult with the person, family members, and others who know the person well to be aware of the person’s strengths and limitations.

Consider consulting with Family Services (where available) or local providers of mental health services to identify support and treatment options. Be aware that some conditions can last a lifetime even with the best of care.

  • Those who are taking medication should not change or stop treatment without first consulting their health care provider.

Suicide is often a risk factor for those suffering from poor mental health. Become familiar with the warning signs for suicide and take them very seriously if observed.

  • If the member seems to be “saying good-bye,” talking about suicide, or exhibiting severe feelings of despair, seek help for him or her immediately. Consult with the bishop, a health care provider, the person’s family, or the hospital emergency room. A help line is also available for leaders. Consider calling a local emergency services provider to get immediate help. Please refer to the article on suicide in the Gospel Topics section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org for more information on suicide and suicide prevention.

  • Invite the individual to consider community-sponsored support groups where available.

Support the Family

The person’s mental health challenges can also affect the lives of his or her family members. Determine the impact on the person’s family, and consider how to best minister to their needs. Show love and empathy as you work with family members.

Encourage the family, extended family, and others involved to counsel together about the needs of the member and the potential resources available to help (see General Handbook, 22.3–22.11).

  • Encourage family members to prepare for times when the individual may need assistance with the normal demands of life.

  • As needed, discuss how family members can assist with bills, accounts, transportation, and needed health care resources (for example, professional counseling, medication, and hospitalization).

Counsel family members to not expect too much or too little. Recovery will often be conditional on the diagnosis and treatment being received. In some situations, the best they can hope for is some improvement rather than complete recovery.

Consider sources of support for family members and friends of those with mental health conditions.

  • Health care providers can often help identify support groups specific to the person’s challenges.

Use Ward and Stake Resources

When appropriate, consider asking ward leaders or other trusted individuals to provide continuing support. Request the individual’s permission before discussing the situation with others.

Identify a trusted person to be a mentor for the member and his or her family, and encourage them to meet regularly.

  • The mentor should be someone the individual feels comfortable with and could be a ministering sister or brother.

  • Be careful to not place individual member mentors in situations where they might be exposed to potential danger.

If appropriate, encourage the family to use Church leaders in ministering to their loved one.

  • Encourage those who are helping the member to do things with the person instead of for the person (for example: taking her or him to an activity or working beside her or him on a welfare assignment).

If the member needs help from a caregiver because of the member’s mental illness, refer to the Support for Caregivers resource.

Help the member identify professional help as necessary.

  • Use local resources that provide services in harmony with gospel principles.

  • Contact the local Family Services or area offices for more resources or counseling options.