We as a people are blessed to live in a remarkable day when there are many modern conveniences to make our lives easier. However, our lifestyles and circumstances can also mean we live in a time of high pressure, busyness and stress.
Because of our constant connection to social media we are much more aware of the many tragedies and natural disasters in the world which contribute to feelings of fear and anxiety. At times, it feels as if the whole earth is in commotion (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:26). Even as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are subject to the stresses and challenges of life.
These conditions and other factors of life in the 21st century contribute to statistics that say one in four people will be affected by mental or emotional illness at some point in their lives. Our youth are often among those who are dealing with the challenges of mental and emotional issues. Because we have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, our youth may mistakenly feel that they must be doing something wrong if they experience mental or emotional distress, perhaps thinking that their struggles are a result of sin or unrighteousness. But one of the purposes of life on earth is to be tested and tried, including mentally and emotionally. Sometimes these issues can be short-term and other times they can last a lifetime. This does not mean that our Heavenly Father has forgotten them. The good news of the gospel assures us that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, there is always hope and help. This is a message our youth need to hear often.
As parents and leaders, we need to be aware of the signs of emotional distress and be better prepared to counsel our children and youth who may be dealing with these very real issues. As members of the Church there are some remarkable resources and helps available to us but many are not aware that these resources exist or don’t know where to find them. I would like to share just a few of these resources which are available to aid parents and those working with our youth so they can help them deal with these challenging and complex conditions.
On LDS.org, the Church’s main website, there is a menu in the blue bar at the top of the page and one of the choices is “Families and Individuals.” In the drop-down menu under this heading, select “Hope and Help.” This opens a page containing a wealth of information for families and individuals on topics such as addiction, disabilities, adoption, divorce, unemployment, and many others. If you click on the topic “Emotional and Mental Health” it opens a page rich with suggestions, encouragement, and resources to help those struggling with these issues and the loved ones who support them. It offers suggestions for parents and leaders on how they might best respond to those who are struggling. There are encouraging talks and articles and an extensive collection of questions and answers for those who live with mental and emotional challenges. You will find links to Church, community and even national websites with helpful information and resources.
The video on this page features Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who talks about his own struggles during one difficult period of his life. This video is especially comforting, helpful and valuable. The video also includes personal experiences from other members who live with ongoing mental health challenges and how they found help and healing through the gospel, support from loved ones, and, at times, professional counseling.
One of the other topics under “Hope and Help” is suicide, a difficult subject. It is important for parents and leaders to understand this issue and realize that talking about suicide will not increase the likelihood that someone will attempt suicide. This page offers help for those who may be dealing with thoughts of suicide, advice for their loved ones who desire to help and aid them, and comfort for those who have lost someone by suicide. This wonderful resource outlines common warning signs of suicide, tips for talking to someone who is struggling, and ideas for being supportive of those who deal with this serious issue. You cannot predict when someone will need your help so it is important to learn what to say and do now so you are prepared when the time comes.
Other wonderful resources are available at LDS.org for dealing with difficult and challenging issues. The “Ministering Resources” website which is available to anyone who sits on a ward or stake council addresses a multitude of concerns (see ministering.lds.org). The Disabilities webpage which can also be accessed through the “Hope and Help” webpage, and the “Home and Family” site found under “Families and Individuals” are both helpful resources for parents and leaders.
The youth theme for 2018 is Doctrine and Covenants 19:23 and states, “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.” The Savior Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of peace in a tumultuous and challenging world. Through His Atonement everyone is promised healing and hope but the journey to find that healing can be a long and lonely one for our youth when they experience mental or emotional health challenges. They need adults who will be there to listen, love and lead them to the help they need for healing. At times comfort may be found in priesthood blessings, prayer and support, but there may be times when outside help is required. It is important to take time to explore the rich resources available to all of us so we may all be better able to minister to and meet the needs of those in our care.