Mental Illness FHE Lesson
Over the past month I’ve been pulling together the Peculiar Minds series, searching for writers, editing essays, and thinking about mental illness daily. When pondering what kind of family home evening lesson we should have I felt impressed to share some of what I’ve learned with my family.
I started by asking my children about emotions; what are they, and why do we have them?
The conversation was more illuminating and abstract than I anticipated with 5 to 18-year-old children. We settled on the idea that if we didn’t have emotions, we wouldn’t be motivated to do anything. We wouldn’t change our behavior, we wouldn’t grow and progress. Maybe your family will come up with a different answer.
Next we talked about how we have both positive and negative emotions that function like two sides of the same coin. One example is taking a test. While preparing we might feel anxious or fearful: negative emotions. Often we would like to avoid feeling this way, which can lead to procrastination and eventually greater anxiety. Those negative feelings change once the test is over, we might feel relieved, peaceful, or excited because we’ve done well: positive emotions. Would our positive emotions feel as good if we didn’t experience the negative emotions beforehand?
This leads to 2 Nephi 2:11:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
Next we took turns sharing our emotions about past family events (summer vacation, a recent move, etc). We each took a turn sharing about each event, with no wrong answers! It was important that there was no sarcasm, teasing, or confrontation. Each person’s feelings were valid even if they were different, or incomprehensible, from someone else’s. We pointed out that you can’t see a person’s emotions — they don’t always show on their faces — so we can’t know how other people feel unless we listen to them.
We concluded our family home evening by talking about how sharing our emotions builds our relationships, even if those emotions are uncomfortable. If we are going to be together forever we want to have good relationships.
So by now you might be wondering how this lesson was at all about mental illness. I believe that if my children feel comfortable sharing their emotions with me and my husband, both the negative and the positive, we are creating a supportive environment in our home wherein they will feel safe and loved if their emotions become problematic. Through this we also teach them how to listen and support others who have both negative and positive emotions.
If you’d like you could add specific information about mental illnesses to your FHE, but because of the young age of some of our children we didn’t discuss it at that time.
After the younger children ran off to get dessert, my oldest daughter lingered to talk more. She said that the lesson wasn’t necessarily fun, but she appreciated being able to talk through things and understand how other family members felt differently from her. I took that as a sign of a successful family night, along with the spirit which was there to testify of Heavenly Father’s love for our family.
The Entire Series
- Forum – Is Mental Illness a Latter Day Plague?
- Resources (research)
- Resources for Help with Mental Illness by Paul
- Understanding PTSD by Robin Grosland
- Anxiety Disorders, Including PTSD (research)
- The Diagnosis by anonymous
- Understanding Asperger’s by Kathy Ward
- Understanding Dementia by Cassandra Jones
- Different Issues for Children (research)
- Asperger’s and Autism (research)
- Simply Depression by Jendoop
- How to Help Someone Who is Depressed: an LDS perspective by Sarah Hancock
- Forum – Does Committing Suicide Consign Someone to Hell?
- The Well of Depression by Cheryl
- Panic, OCD, Grandma and Me by NotMolly
- Understanding Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and OCD by Robison Wells
- Free at Last by anonymous
- Forum – No One Wants to Hear They’re Wrong
- Understanding P0rnography Addiction by Dr. Kevin Skinner
- What is Real? Living Without Diagnosis by anonymous
- A Reader’s Story of Hope by anonymous
- Understanding Bipolar II Disorder by Tresa Edmunds (Reese Dixon)
- What is Bipolar Disorder? (research)
- Choosing Treatment through Revelation by Bonnie
- Overcoming Anxiety and Depression Without Medication by Aaron Anderson
- How Do We Embrace Those with Mental Illness by Jendoop
- What is Schizophrenia? (research)
- Understanding Schizophrenia by Judy Hall
- Understanding a Roommate with Schizophrenia by anonymous
- Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder by Melissa Horsley
- My Path Down the Rabbit Hole by anonymous
- Mental Illness FHE Lesson by Jendoop
- Healing by Michelle