When Mental Illness Establishes ‘Residency’


Over the years, I have spoken to countless individuals who are suffering from anxiety, depression and a host of other disorders. Most were faithful members of the church, doing all that they can to keep the commandments and obey the gospel principles. Despite faith and priesthood blessings, their illnesses remain. Their stories are heartbreaking and though often filled with pain, their hope and faith is something to admire.

“How many people in your circle of friends are suffering from some form of mental illness? One? Two? None? Chances are good that your estimate is too low.

A major study by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that as many as 20 percent of adult Americans suffer from a disabling mental disorder. The most serious and chronic of these disorders—schizophrenia, manic-depression, and chronic major depression—often require hospitalization and medication. In fact, serious mental disorders fill more hospital beds in the United States than cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis combined. But milder forms of clinical depression and severe anxiety can also disrupt individual and family lives and require professional treatment. (See “How Many Are Suffering?” p. 53. Jan Underwood Pinborough, “Mental Illness: In Search of Understanding and Hope,” Ensign, Feb 1989, 51) With the addition of COVID-19 issues and other stresses, I’m sure the numbers have increased dramatically since this article was published.

As we go through life we are faced with many of the challenges of this mortal life. The human body with all of its imperfections, including mental, is certainly one of them. If mental illness, in all its forms, hasn’t personally touched us, we will surely have a loved one who will suffer with such an affliction. I would hope that each of us would try to overcome the tendency to judge and condemn others who suffer under such pain. I have often found that many suffer in silence. They walk the lonely road, alone. When in doubt, do as the Savior would do; lift!

The day may come when Mental Illness will take residency in our bodies but our souls are ‘of a different matter.’ And even though most of us understand that the Lord loves us, we will still look for the outstretched arms of others for support. May the Lord bless us with the wisdom, courage, and strength to persevere such trials, be we the lonely traveler, or the loving “Good Samaritan” who is charged to help those where mental illness has established a residency!

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