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Balancing faith and mental health: Both complex, important to well being

Published: Thursday, Aug. 30 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Berrett said people with mental illness tend to disconnect from the good things in their life — their family, their friends and their spiritual beliefs. In order for them to recover, they need to reconnect with these things.

“A lot of patients in mental illness feel unworthy and deficient and broken and don’t believe they can reconnect with God, because they don’t believe they deserve it,” he said.

Patients with eating disorders that Berrett works with can often begin to believe in their illness above anything else, and as a therapist he must help them to have faith in the things they had before, he said.

Williams emphasized that counselors are required by the ethical standards of the American Psychology Association to be respectful and informed about their client’s beliefs.

“If you get a counselor who is not respectful of your religious views, get a different one,” she said. “It’s important to work with a professional who you trust.”

It’s also important to receive professional treatment and medication when necessary, Williams said.

“Refusing to take medication is like praying for your garden to grow and refusing to plant the seeds,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to get help.”

Resources

Williams said there is plenty of helpful information on lds.org about mental illnesses and how individuals can deal with these issues. The information is out there, she said; we just need to be aware of it, read it and apply it. She called mental illness “the leprosy of our era.”

“If people will take the time and open their minds and hearts to understand these issues, it will be a lot easier to respond from a place of compassion,” she said.

Email: mgarrett@desnews.com

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