Whether you struggle with mental illness or want to help someone who does, you can find hope by understanding it more thoroughly.
“She’s gotten so crazy!” “He had so much potential.” “Snap out of it!” We often say things like this when we don’t understand how to help friends or loved ones suffering with mental illness.
As Jan Underwood Pinborough explains in an Ensign article, mental illnesses are more common than we might think. Some individuals “feel pain and confusion so great that life is almost unbearable.” Yet people around them sometimes don’t seem to recognize their suffering at all.
Sometimes, we don’t understand how to handle our own mental illnesses or know when we should ask for help. “What is wrong with me?” “Why can’t I feel anything?” “Maybe if I were more valiant, this wouldn’t happen.” “Heavenly Father, why won’t you help me?” In these situations, we tend to isolate and blame ourselves, or we feel embarrassed and angry. However, Sister Pinborough helps us realize that we don’t need to feel guilty and alone.
Discussing several types of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, severe depression, and anxiety disorders, she offers hope: “The key to that hope is understanding. For the victim of mental illness, hope lies in being properly diagnosed and treated—the sooner the better. And for family members of the mentally ill, help comes best from those who understand the illness.”
Sister Pinborough also discusses ways others can help, such as expressing love and interest to the victim and the family, withholding judgment, increasing acceptance, and giving needed help.
There are no easy answers. However, the Lord can bless us in our struggle to find greater understanding about how to help ourselves and others.
Source: The Ensign
—Jessica Staples, Mormon Insights