In the Saturday afternoon session of general conference, one of the more memorable messages for me came from Elder Erich W. Kopischke, who spoke candidly about the challenges of mental health.
He shared personal stories about his son’s struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, and asked for more patience and understanding on the part of family members, friends, and leaders.
Learning will lead to more understanding, more acceptance, more compassion, more love.
The social media reactions to Elder Kopischke’s timely and heart-felt message rang out in praise.
I don’t always tune in to #GeneralConference as I’m inactive, but I did this afternoon. I was mesmerized by the speaker who spoke of his son’s mental illness, depression and attempt to take his life. This talk was relevant for everyone. What we need is talks we can relate to.
— Yorkiemama (@yorkiemama01) October 2, 2021
One of the resources Elder Kopischke recommended for increasing understanding was the Mental Health section in the Gospel Library app and online.
Each of these sections answers real and common questions about mental health, such as:
- How can I tell if I’m just having a hard time right now or if I’m struggling with a mental health challenge?
- How can I be happy when I can’t feel anything?
- I feel so alone. How can I help someone better understand my needs?
- What’s the difference between perfectionism and wanting to be worthy?
- My loved one seems more depressed or anxious than usual. Should I be worried that they might attempt suicide?
- When should we seek professional help? What kind of professional help should we seek?
- I am not a mental health professional, but I want to help. What can I do?
- How can I better understand what to avoid saying or doing?
- How can I help individuals, including those working through mental health challenges, feel welcomed and included at church?
And each question is answered with inspired thoughts from Church leaders as well as practical resources. For example, the General Principles section includes both distress hotlines for those in immediate need of professional health and a quote from Elder Quentin L. Cook:
This life is not always easy, nor was it meant to be; it is a time of testing and proving. … At times when we may feel to say, ‘Hope you know, I had a hard time,’ we can be assured that [Jesus Christ] is there and we are safe in His loving arms.
You can read a summary of Elder Kopischke’s address from Church News here.