Arrakeen wrote: ↑07 Nov 2022, 21:09
Old-Timer wrote: ↑06 Nov 2022, 20:20
Missionaries now have mental health services available as a standard part of their missions, with MissionPresidents given basic training and guidance to use the services, but they are accessible only to the extent the missionaries are willing and able to ask or their symptoms are visible to others.
This might depend on the mission, but the mental health services available on my mission consisted of one retired counselor for several hundred missionaries who could do a brief phone call once a week and a local member who was a doctor who wrote prescriptions for all the missionaries’ medical needs. I was mostly just handed medication with the expectation that it would fix everything, and the lack of privacy on a mission really made it hard for any sort of real therapy session to take place. Considering how many missionaries I served with also struggled with mental health, it was very inadequate. This was 2015-2017 so there may have been some changes since then, but I think it is safe to say there is a lot of room for improvement.
On my mission (this was back 2013), the mental health services available to me was 5 visits with a counselor at the nearby LDS Family Services office. The content of our conversations mostly devolved into him trying to convince me to stay on my mission.
I don't know what improvements/changes they've made since my mission for therapy/counseling, etc. I applaud what they've done as far as rule changes for missionaries. Had they had those in place when I was on mine, I may have had an easier time.
Watcher wrote: ↑08 Nov 2022, 11:37
I could use some pointers (perhaps volumes of suggestions) as to how I could be more of a help and comfort to those in need of comfort.
What is help and support for those with mental difficulties? Should there be any expectations?
For me, and I imagine for others, expectations were exactly the problem. Growing up in the church, I was no different than any other young man hearing that I needed to prepare for and serve a mission. Those who didn't go or came home early were talked about and thought of negatively. Even those who decided to serve in the military instead of a mission were looked down upon by people in my ward.
Knowing all of this while I was out on my mission put me in the difficult position of continuing to suffer emotionally or coming home early and being thought less of by the only community I had known in my life up to that point. The solution my mind went to was hurting myself just bad enough to get sent home. Breaking my leg is what I had seriously contemplated and actually tried a time or two (no one knew about those attempts, so the criticalness of my mental state was not known to anyone, but me). That way, I thought, I could at least say I was sent, rather than chose, to come home. Thankfully for my leg, my new mission president had been talking to Salt Lake about what he should do (he did know that I was having a hard time at least) and they said to send me home for mental health reasons.
As for what can be done to support people who have those difficulties, the practice I've adopted is that I do not try to sway anyone one way or the other. I won't encourage someone to go, because that is what led to my difficulties. But, I won't tell someone that they shouldn't go either, since I know that there are many who have had good experiences and loved their mission. I simply support someone in whatever their decision is, and encourage them to be sure they are doing something because it is what they want to do, and not what other's want for them.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson