There are many important messages from General Conference so far, but the one that struck me the hardest and seemed so urgent was Elder Kopishke’s message on mental health.
Elder Kopishke shared a very personal message regarding his son who had to cut his mission short because of anxiety. I have three sons who will be hopefully leaving on missions in the coming years, and I imagined how difficult it would be for me and my wife to see our son return early because of such issues. Obviously, as Elder Kopishke pointed out, such a result would also be devastating for our son.
The truth is that many people, including myself, can sometimes be impatient with people suffering through mental health issues. I was raised in the 1960s and 1970s when the primary message from those in authority was: “get over it and suck it up.” People in general had very little patience for what they called “excuses” in those days. Remember that many of these people in authority in those days lived through the Great Depression, World War II and the Korean War. There was not much time for mental health breaks during those days. Survival was at stake. (Check out Clint Eastwood’s character in the movie “Gran Torino” to get a hint at the personalities of many people from that generation).
Our times are easier in many ways — but more difficult in other ways. I have been struck by how many people around me these days are suffering through mental health crises of one kind or another. I think the pandemic and the response to the pandemic are partly to blame, but I also think there are a variety of other reasons for health problems around us.
It seems like we are living in a time when the entire world appears to be in commotion in unexpected ways: “And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.” (D&C 88:91).
So, Elder Kopishke’s message is an important reminder that we need an extra dose of charity these days towards those suffering mental health crises. The Church has some great resources for those suffering mental health issues and those whose family members are suffering mental health issues. Please check out this page here.
Elder Kopishke visited out stake several years ago. He left a very good impression. He’s down to earth, practical, realistic. Our stake president and Elder Kopishke had a lot of personal conversations where they discussed a lot of topics, even topics that you’re not used to General Authorities talking about.
One of the big takeaways from this general conference weekend, for me personally, is that we need to have mercy and compassion on others, particular for and towards those with whom we may not agree or be comfortable with. So, I’m grateful for Elder Kopishke bringing up an important and overlooked topic.
I appreciated his remarks. I still see members of the church express sentiments that are not very kind towards people that have mental health issues. Like Geoff said “suck it up, get over it!” My mom had bi-polar disorder and it was very real and very much part of all of our lives. She had tremendous faith, but she also know that this was her trial for many reasons. She had come to peace with that too.