I went to Mormon church for the first time since my move to Utah… and had an uplifting experience that helped me acknowledge that in many pockets we are making strides against perfectionistic culture and towards prioritizing principles that support good mental health practice.
When Rumi is quoted in an LDS sacrament meeting… you know it’s going to be a good day. This man shared some beautiful poetry acknowledging the importance of sorrow and what a poignant part of life it plays. His talk was about “living the gospel,” which usually focuses on “happiness” in a way that feels like the proverbial carrot everyone is chasing but can’t ever quite achieve. He made room for sorrow as part of living the gospel. Refreshing.
“It can be annoying to hear platitudes of ideals over the pulpit that don’t seem to relate to our day to day lives.” YES! He gave a beautiful example of sharing his own brokenness in a beautiful way that made room for all of our broken pieces as well.
The second talk had some mentions of Victor Hugo and his work Les Miserables… and notes of the grace needed in redemption.
Relief Society was phenomenal. They focused on probably the best talk given last General Conference by Sister Reyna Aburto focused very directly on issues of Mental Health.
And my favorite quote from today’s teacher:
“We need to challenge the idea that it’s a spiritual failure to have mental health issues.”
We had discussion on the importance of language around suicide. That it’s appropriate to say “died” of suicide instead of “committed” or “killed oneself.” Lots of discussion on how we should talk more openly about these issues.
Social worker member spoke about the dangers of “pretending” that we are okay when we are not.
Another great quote from teacher: “You can’t pray away depression just like you can’t pray away diabetes.”
One of the matriarchs spoke vulnerably about having mental issues postpartum and encouraged the younger women to get help when they needed. She also talked about the importance about not seeing being on medications as a failure. She shared gratitude for medical technology.
“There is no shame in needing medical help.”
Several mentioned the importance of not hiding these struggles so we can role model to each other how to get through difficult times.
Discussion of importance of supporting each other and accessing resources like therapy. Several were up front about being in therapy currently and using medications.
One woman addressed head-on the reality that many Mormon women deal with depression at high rates and how she believes perfectionistic standards play a role.
Another matriarch shard that there was a suicide in her family. And she said that the people left behind need support because they will inappropriately blame themselves.
I was blown away! Super impressed… and optimistic… and hopeful… that over time… the many that speak up about these kinds of issues will cause the tide that turns.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST, CSTS can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex InfoPodcasts, is the current past president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.