Menu

Elder Christofferson to seminary and institute teachers: Be ‘purveyors of hope’ to generations plagued by depression and anxiety

Help students and others establish their personal foundation on the ‘rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ,’ the Apostle says

In a world plagued by a growing epidemic of depression and anxiety, especially among the younger generations, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared that understanding Heavenly Father’s plan of redemption — especially the Atonement of Jesus Christ — provides the ultimate reassurance.

That understanding “builds and preserves spiritual and emotional resilience — knowing the why of our existence and our purpose in mortal life. We teach, by precept and example, to whom they may look for deliverance and support,” Elder Christofferson told seminary and institute teachers during an annual training broadcast on Friday, Jan. 26. The videos are online at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Elder Christofferson assured teachers, “We can help students and others establish their personal foundation on the ‘rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God’ so that ‘when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, ... it shall have no power over [them] to drag [them] down to the gulf of misery and endless woe’” (Helaman 5:12).

Elder Christofferson was one of three speakers during this year’s annual training broadcast to seminary and institute teachers around the globe. The Apostle was joined by Elder Clark G. Gilbert, a General Authority Seventy and Church commissioner of education, and Chad H Webb, administrator for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion.

To begin his remarks, Elder Christofferson spoke of the rise of clinical depression among teenagers globally, noting that Latter-day Saint youth are not immune.

“Church longitudinal studies of member youth showed that globally in 2018, 29% struggled with clinical levels of anxiety,” he reported.

Elder Clark G. Gilbert, Church commissioner of education, sitting left, and Chad H Webb, administrator for Seminaries and Institutes, listen as Elder D. Todd Christofferson speaks at the pulpit during a training broadcast.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at the pulpit, and Elder Clark G. Gilbert, Church commissioner of education, sitting left, and Chad H Webb, administrator for Seminaries and Institutes, participate in the 2024 Seminary and Institutes of Religion Annual Broadcast, available on Jan. 26, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

While many factors may contribute to or be associated with depression and anxiety — including genetics, trauma and neglect, parenting styles, sexual orientation, peer and social group influence, social media use and others — Elder Christofferson shared his personal belief that much discouragement and anxiety comes from failing to understand or remember God’s plan and trust in His power. “Without the conviction of God’s reality, His love and His plan of happiness for His children, young minds can see their future as bleak and fragile.”

Church leaders are not looking for seminary and institute teachers to become counselors or mental health specialists, Elder Christofferson said. However, teachers can be a counterweight to factors in society that are contributing to high levels of anxiety and depression. “We are purveyors of hope. We are the voice of hope, the hope rooted in faith and trust in God.”

Latter-day Saints have an incomparable opportunity to study the Book of Mormon this year. “No other part of the scriptural canon possesses the converting power of the Book of Mormon in its witness that Jesus is the Christ and that He has overcome death, both physical and spiritual,” he said.

The Book of Mormon’s narrative is filled with examples of overcoming, Elder Christofferson continued. “The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and ‘the virtue of the word of God’ (Alma 31:5) is that it produces faith in the Savior — faith that pushes out the doubt, depression and anxiety that might otherwise overwhelm us and leaving in their place strength and reassurance.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2024 Seminary and Institutes of Religion annual broadcast.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2024 Seminary and Institutes of Religion annual broadcast. The broadcast is available for viewing starting Jan. 26, 2024, in Gospel Library. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

King Benjamin, Nephi, Alma and Mormon are among the examples in the Book of Mormon of those who relied on the Savior during possible times of anxiety or depression.

The prophet Alma described the Savior’s own example of dealing with incomprehensible suffering and how individuals can turn to Him for relief and healing, Elder Christofferson said. “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; … and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12).

The Book of Mormon teaches the meaning and process of being born again and becoming “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19). “Even Death itself cannot threaten the peace of youth and young adults once they have been born of the Spirit and have learned to trust in God,” Elder Christofferson declared.

Elder Christofferson concluded by sharing his hope that teachers will be able to help all within their influence to make covenants with God and keep them. “Help them cultivate faith and trust in God and find hope. Help them repent and abide in the Savior’s redeeming grace and find peace. Help them be born again as ‘children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters’ (Mosiah 5:7) and find joy.”

Elder Clark G. Gilbert, Church commissioner of education, speaks during the 2024 Seminary and Institutes of Religion annual broadcast. The broadcast is available for viewing starting Jan. 26, 2024, in Gospel Library. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

‘Prophetic echo’

Last year, Elder Gilbert shared five prophetic emphases that the Prophet and the Apostles have been emphasizing to Latter-day Saint young adults: 

1. Know your divine identity. 

2. Draw on the power of Jesus Christ in your covenants. 

3. Let God prevail and follow His prophet. 

4. Teach truth with love. 

5. Take charge of your testimony. 

As part of this year’s worldwide training, Elder Gilbert reinforced his previous invitation to teachers to study and apply the current prophetic emphases for young adults. Seminary and institute teachers “can become a prophetic echo of the instruction prophets are already sharing with our young adults,” Elder Gilbert declared.

Related Stories
Church commissioner of education shares 5 prophetic emphases for teaching young people of the Church
President Nelson issues special, personal invitations to youth and young adults
Church announces changes to seminary credit requirements, updates to the official seminary objective statement
What an increase in institute enrollment says about the strength of the rising generation
Newsletters
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed