Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, spoke at the general women’s session for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the importance of recognizing mental and emotional illness.
“Sadness and anxiety are natural human emotions. However, if we are constantly sad and if our pain blocks our ability to feel the love of our Heavenly Father and his Son and the influence of the Holy Ghost, then we may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or another emotional condition,” Aburto said as she exhorted listeners to not hide their feelings behind a wall of shame.
Aburto discussed the dangerous consequences of untreated mental or emotional illnesses, including isolation, broken relationships, self-harm and suicide.
“I know this first hand,” she said. “My own father died by suicide many years ago.”
While she said discussing it was difficult for many years, Aburto has since talked openly about her father’s death with her children as a means of offering them an avenue to receive whatever help they may need.
“It is important to recognize that depression is not the result of weakness, nor is it usually the result of sin. It ‘thrives in secrecy but shrinks in empathy.'” Aburto said, quoting author and blogger Seth Adam Smith. “Together, we can break through the clouds of isolation and stigma so the burden of shame is lifted and miracles of healing can occur.”
Aburto closed her talk with a plea for listeners to reach out for help from family, friends and medical professionals when necessary. She also called to listeners to come unto Christ, the master healer.
“Ultimately,” she said, “He shall wipe away all tears from (our) eyes; and there shall be no more sorrow.”