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Mental Health and Spiritual Concerns

The mental health needs of BYU students has followed national trends and become more complex over time. There a variety of contexts in which one can intervene to help individuals ameliorate their concerns. In many instances, ecclesiastical leaders helping with spiritual concerns can be a great benefit to struggling individuals.

If spiritual interventions seem to offer little help or alleviation to an individual's concern, it is appropriate to refer to licensed, professional mental health counselors. These people will offer another area of support and effective intervention.

Signs that psychological care is needed:


  • — thoughts about self-harm/suicide
  • — poor concentration/memory
  • — confusion
  • — decision making process is impaired
  • — negative self-talk
  • — all-or-nothing thinking
  • — obsessive thoughts/talk


  • disruption of daily activities
  • — social withdrawal
  • — irresponsibility
  • — compulsions such as lying or stealing
  • — legal issues/authority issues
  • — decreasing academic performance
  • — heavy substance use


  • —feeling out of control
  • —mood swings
  • —sadness
  • —irritability
  • —agitation
  • —extreme worry
  • —excessive fear
  • —low self-esteem
  • —low motivation


  • —sleep troubles
  • —change in appetite/weight
  • shaking
  • —fatigue
  • —headaches
  • —g.i. troubles

Collaborative Efforts

Spiritual and psychological interventions are intended to compliment each other and can be powerful agents of change in people’s lives when used together. The following is a list of differences between spiritual and mental health counseling:

Church Leaders

  • Purpose: spiritual hurt/faith crises
  • Activities: encourage spiritual and religious practice (e.g., prayer and scripture study) and use words from the scriptures and of the latter-day prophets
  • Leaders are encouraged not to give too much advice
  • Refer to professional counselors as indicated by official Handbooks distributed by the church

Mental Health Professionals

  • Purpose: For psychological pain
  • Activities: discuss emotional issues, past trauma (if any), cognitive patterns and interpersonal concerns
  • These activities serve to help create self-awareness, healthier levels of self-acceptance, healthier thought patterns, a better ability to manage emotions and addictive behaviors: