I was impressed with Elder Alexander B. Morrison’s article, “Myths about Mental Illness,” in the October Ensign. His comments make a lot of sense based on my interactions with some amazing and wonderful Latter-day Saints who have struggled with mental illness caused by a variety of factors. As a Church, we have a lot of progress to make in better ministering to and helping those who struggle with such challenges. Getting rid of some common myths is a first step.
Previously, I have made my own suggestions for Church leaders regarding mental illness. I welcome further suggestions and ideas.
The most important thing here is working better to help our brothers and sisters in the Church who suffer with illnesses and disabilities of all kinds. Very few of us are completely whole – in fact, we may all need some compassion and help as we face illnesses of various kinds in our lives. Let’s be better prepared to help.
As a secondary issue and in all seriousness – I don’t mean this as a jab at anybody – I think we also need to recognize signs of mental illness in some (a minority!) of the self-proclaimed enemies we may deal with. When we understand that someone’s extreme hostility may be an expression of a deeper issue, such as past child abuse or a chemical imbalance, rather than merely a theological disagreement or a logical response to concerns about Mormonism, then we may realize that engaging in debate is futile, and may be able to reach out to the person or help them in other ways. (For example, I for one have been too quick to engage in debate with others when it was the wrong thing or wrong time for that person. Sometimes silence, a change of topic, compassion, or even a good meal are much better alternatives.)