Within Mormon culture, we seem to have difficulty understanding mental health and depression and knowing how to approach the issue, especially when thinking about the contrast of our mortality and spirituality.
In a recent LDS Perspectives podcast, host Nick Galieti sought advice from Brian Murdock, a licensed marriage and family therapist, who gave insight into better comprehending mental health issues and how we can help.
“One of the things we know with our beliefs is that we’ve come to earth to experience all kinds of trials and tribulations and that’s one of the things that helps us gain wisdom and knowledge to take with us,” Murdock says.
Sharing quotes from Elder Alexander B. Morrison’s book, Valley of Sorrows, Murdock helps us see that there may be more people suffering from this than we realize. Elder Morrison wrote:
“I assure you that Latter-day Saints are in no way exempt from the burden of mental illness, either as victim, caregiver, family member, or friend. In every ward and stake, there are severely depressed men and women; elderly people with failing memories and reduced intellectual capacities; youth or adults struggling to escape the dark specter of suicide; persons of all ages, both sexes, and every walk of life, who exhibit aberrant, even bizarre behavior.”
Murdock and Galieti discuss four myths Elder Morrison shares in his book that we as Mormons tend to believe when it comes to mental health and depression, and also how we can overcome those misconceptions.
Murdock explains that two of those myths are that “all mental illness is caused by sin” and that “someone is to blame for mental illness.” Each of the four myths they discuss and refute in the podcast and help to change our paradigms of what we think about mental illness and depression.
They also present helpful information about the different kinds of depression, symptoms of depression, how to seek help, and how it may manifest in our personal spirituality as well.
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Despite such problems, there is hope. In this helpful book, Elder Morrison uses laymen's terms to explain the causes, course, effects, and treatment of such debilitating diseases as anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. In doing so, he lifts the stigma and dispels the myths and misconceptions so often associated with mental illness.
Recommending a balanced approach to treatment, including prayer, priesthood blessings, professional counseling, and prescribed medication, Elder Morrison offers hope and welcome encouragement to those who suffer from these painful, widely misunderstood, and destructive afflictions. Valley of Sorrow is available at Deseret Book stores or on deseretbook.com