This past year I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about mental illness as I’ve observed the way some of my friends and relatives have dealt with their own mental illness.

Some of them have sought professional help and have really benefited from it.

Others have denied the fact that they have a mental illness and have not made any progress toward managing it.

Believe it or not, people are not immune to mental illness.

In fact, I believe that at some point, everyone deals with this in one degree or another.

At least one in five adults in the United States struggled with mental illness in 2013, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

If there is one thing I have learned about people suffering with a mental illness, it’s that those who seek help and learn how to manage it are so much better off than those who don’t.

In my experience, those who have learned about their mental illness and know how it affects them have been able to keep it from controlling their lives.

They demonstrate a sense of strength, power and direction.

On the other hand, those that I have seen who have not addressed it seem to have constant ups and downs with no real answers.

But I don’t think it’s necessary to live like that when we have all of the wonderful resources that we do today.

In the Book of Mormon, Lehi said, “men are, that they might have joy.”

The more a person knows about their mental state of being, whether they are facing a mental illness or not, the more peace they will feel and the better off they will be.

Students at BYU-Idaho are blessed to have an opportunity to receive free counseling on campus.

In fact, one of my best friends at school accredits her ability to serve a mission to the counseling center.

She said that after years of suffering through her mental illness, she was able to find peace and strength through the help of the center.

She said it was not an easy process, but once she and her family became aware of what was going on, everything began to make sense.

Her mom said she was better able to help her daughter now that the source of the mental hiccups had been identified.

Today, my friend controls her mental illness and doesn’t let it control her.

If you have or even think you might have a mental illness, don’t let yourself suffer through it. Just go find help. It’s a win-win either way.

Either your professional will tell you that what you’re feeling is completely normal, or they will tell you what you are facing and how to overcome it.

Then you can move through the rest of your life knowing how to work with your own mind, and not against it.

I know it works. I’ve seen it done.   

Give it a try.