Gender and mental health in Mormon contexts

Authored by: Rebekah Perkins Crawford

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351181600-30

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Abstract

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plays a large role in providing formal and informal support for members who are experiencing psychological distress. An interview study of Latter-day Saint religious leaders revealed gendered barriers that female members must navigate in order to access support resources. Latter-day Saint women must communicate to persuade male leaders—who act as gatekeepers and coordinators for the local religious community’s support efforts—that their mental health needs are legitimate. Male leaders acknowledged varied awareness about how gender enables or constrains the effectiveness of those interactions. Organizational barriers block female Latter-day Saint religious leaders from acting as commensurate alternative sources of mental health support. Talk about Relief Society presidents by interview participants and by Relief Society presidents themselves pointed to disparities in disclosure expectations between male and female leaders as well as Relief Society presidents’ inability to dispense money and other forms of direct organizational support as inequities that disproportionately affect LDS women. In addition, the fact that female LDS leaders lack priesthood authority and are blocked from pastoral and confessional contexts removes them from situations in which much of the support for mental health needs are negotiated. The chapter concludes with a discussion of systemic inequities surrounding gender and mental health in Mormon contexts.

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