One of the most challenging (and sometimes frustrating) aspects of Church responsibility is dealing with medical problems, personalities, and illnesses we have no experience or training for. Following are a collection of links and articles that I hope will help you handle challenging individuals in your stewardship.
I am NOT a psychologist nor do I have any professional experience with the disabled or mentally ill. Please don't print this information out, take a copy of your ward or branch directory and label each person with a personality disorder or mental illness. This information is not intended for you to use to make diagnoses or judgements. I hope this information will help leaders in challenging situations:
- Recognize when individuals and families need help beyond our skill sets
- Be more understanding of those suffering through education
- Learn appropriate actions to to take to support them
- Learn how to support families dealing with challenging family members on a daily basis
The information in this section is not exhaustive, nor can it be, but I hope it will be of use to you.
This section is primarily aimed at teachers of those with special needs. Most of the information relates to children, but I expect it can be applied to adults as well. I'd love to add information about how church leaders can effectively support families of disabled individuals, so if you have information or experience with that, please Email me.
Mental illness is "any of various conditions characterized by impairment of an individual's normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma." (The Free Dictionary)
Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income and are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. Most people with serious mental illness need medication to help control symptoms... Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through 'will power' and are not related to a person's 'character' or intelligence." (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Examples of mental illnesses include schizophrenia, manic depression (bi-polar disorder), obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, and panic disorder.
"A personality disorder is identified by a pervasive pattern of experience and behavior that is abnormal with respect to any two of the following: thinking, mood, personal relations, and the control of impulses. Personality disorders are not illnesses in a strict sense as they do not disrupt emotional, intellectual, or perceptual functioning." (FocusAs.com)
Personality disorders do not benefit from medication. They are most often seen in individuals from dysfunctional homes, single parent households, or who suffer(ed) from sexual or mental abuse, though they can appear in individuals who experience normal childhoods. The incidence of personality disorders is increasing in society because of an increasing number of dysfunctional homes. (excerpts from Jenny's notes taken at a July 2005 Regional Welfare Training, Speaker: Marci Remington, LDS Social Services)
"Treating a personality disorder takes a long time. Personality traits such as coping mechanisms, beliefs, and behavior patterns take many years to develop, and they change slowly. ... Group therapy and behavior modification, sometimes within day care or designed residential settings, are effective. Participation in self-help groups or family therapy can also help change socially undesirable behaviors. Behavioral change is most important for patients with borderline, antisocial, or avoidant personality disorder." (The Merck Manual: Personality Disorders)
Personality disorder types include paranoid, schizoid, avoidant, sociopath (psychopaths, or anti-social), schizotypal, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, compulsive, and passive-aggressive.
Dealing with Difficult People
Mentally healthy individuals can also challenge leadership and families. This section has a number of links that can help you learn and implement techniques to help you in your encounters with difficult people.
Disclaimer: This document is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to serve as medical advice or to replace consultation with your physician or mental health professional.
Tags / Keywords:
LDS Primary Teaching Help - The CTR Class (ages 4-7) Next Page:
About Mormon Share