8 ways the LDS Church addresses mental illnesses

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Dani Jardine
Oct. 2017 General Conference attenders walk out of the Conference Center. One of the ways the Church addresses mental illnesses is through a recent increase in highlights of the topic during General Conference. (Dani Jardine)

Mental health problems are on the rise, and Latter-day Saints are no exception. In fact, some studies show that percentage of church members suffering with mental illnesses is higher than the national average.

LDS Church leaders are responding in a variety of ways to this trend. Here are 8 times the church has addressed mental illnesses in recent years:

  1. “Like a Broken Vessel” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

This General Conference address facilitated a turning point for the church in addressing mental illnesses. The entire talked focused on Major Depressive Disorder – the only General Conference with a specific theme of mental illness. Elder Holland even included his own experiences with depression.

The church later created a Mormon Message video with highlights from the talk, a personal interview with Elder Holland and interviews with several Church members with Major Depressive Disorder experiences. When it first came out, the video was shared across social media channels and went viral.

  1. More General Conference addresses about mental illness

There has been a noticeable increase in church leaders addressing mental illnesses in General Conference. According to the LDS General Conference Corpus, the words “mental illness” were only mentioned three times in General Conferences from 1850 to 2009. Mental illnesses weren’t mentioned at all in the 2000s. But in this decade, 17 General Conference addresses highlighted mental illnesses.

  1. mentalhealth.lds.org

The church created an entire website dedicated to reaching out to those affected by poor mental health. The site has a broad range of advice and resources for different mental health circumstances.

  1. preventsuicide.lds.org

Along with the mental health website, the church also created a website focused on suicide. While suicide is not always associated with poor mental health, the church recognizes that the two are often linked. The site gives help to those considering suicide, those with loved ones who might be considering suicide and those who have lost someone to suicide.

  1. Mental health video collection

The LDS media library includes an entire video collection of 25 individual church members sharing their own accounts of battling mental illness and finding hope while experiencing mental illnesses.

  1. Addressing early-returned missionaries

The church is in a unique position with mental illnesses when it comes to missions. Many full-time missionaries have to return home due to mental illnesses, creating guilt and shame for many. The church has repeatedly addressed this issue to help those suffering from these unique mental health circumstances.

In a March 2016 Face-to-Face event, Elder Holland offered words of encouragement to those who returned home early from missions because of mental illness. Additionally, the Ensign magazine has published several talks addressing early-returned missionaries, including “Catching the Vision: All Missions Bring Souls to Christ,” “Dealing with Coming Home Early,” and “Retuning Home Early from My Mission.”

  1. LDS Family Services

LDS Family Services is a professional counseling resource provided by the church. The short-term professional counseling needs to be authorized by a bishop, stake president or mission president.

  1. Addressing those helping mentally-ill loved ones

The church also provides resources for those who aren’t suffering with mental illnesses themselves, but who are looking to help loved ones who are. Some resources include episode 885 of Mormon Channel Dailey, “Caring for Mentally Ill Loved Ones,” and Ensign articles such as “Myths about Mental Illness,” “Easing the Burdens of Mental Illness,” and “Why Is My Wife (or Husband) Depressed?”