As Primary children, we learn early and often our responsibility to “read, pray, and obey.” As we get older, often the answers to seemingly difficult questions are the same: “Read the scriptures. Pray often, with real intent, with faith in Christ. Obey the Lord.” Often people call these answers, the “Primary answers.” What if we called them the foundational answers or the basic answers because that is where we build our faith.

In mental health, there are some foundational methods or basic methods to overcome many different mental or emotional or relationship problems. Our basic tools are to 1) change our thinking, 2) change how we feel, and 3) change how we act. It should be noted that there are times when medication is needed to assist in this process.

Elder Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. . . . That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel. [“Little Children,” Ensign, November 1986, 17]

One counseling approach: Change your thinking, change your life.

Gospel approach: “as he [she] thinketh in his [her] heart, so is he [she].” Proverbs 23:7. As Elder Packer stated: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes…” Attitudes are thinking patterns.

Another counseling approach: change anger to calm, change anxiety and depression to peacefulness.

Gospel approach: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14:1.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. “…pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love [charity]…” Moroni 7:48

Another counseling approach: set goals and act according to your values.

Gospel approach: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God … ” John 7:17. “… if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” 2 Nephi 32:5.

Stress and adversity are a normal part of life. The scriptures teach that “… it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things, ”1  “If they never should have bitter, they could not know the sweet,”2 “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good,”3 “… in the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”4

May the Lord continue to bless us to feel His love and be strengthened by the Spirit as we apply the basics in all that we do.

Additional resources can be found at

  1. 2 Nephi 2:11
  2. D&C 29:39
  3. D&C 121:7-8
  4. John 16:33

[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately.  In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at Services are free and confidential.]