The Mormon Mental Health Association

Supporting Mental Health Within the Mormon Community

Official Positions of MMHA

These positions have been developed by the Board of Directors supported by a majority vote. All letters, responses, and statements posted below have been written to reflect the vote and direction of the Board.

Position on Protecting Transgender Youth

The Mormon Mental Health Association (MMHA) is strongly opposed to the recent roll-back of protections for transgender students at public schools by the Departments of Education and Justice. The evidence of higher risks of suicide, bullying, and violence towards transgender individuals is well documented. We therefore strongly endorse protections for the rights of these youths to use facilities and public spaces that are consistent with their gender identity. Failing to do so will result in a higher likelihood of physical and emotional harm to these youth.

We regret that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has filed an amicus brief in favor of this roll-back and hope that the church will re-examine its position in light of the strong evidence of considerable harm that occurs when transgender youth are blocked from public spaces that are consistent with their gender identity.

April 3, 2017

Position on "Sex/Porn Addiction"

There is currently much contradicting information available to the general public regarding the commonly used term of “addiction” to address issues of sexuality.  One of the roles MMHA takes seriously is to be up-to-date on credible, peer-reviewed, best-practice approaches to all issues surrounding mental health and serve as educators of such information.  Therefore, the following bullet points have been developed to help educate Mormon members and leaders regarding the topic of sexual behavior:

· Currently “sex addiction,” “pornography addiction,” “love addiction,” etc. are not classified as psychiatric disorders.  These terms are not found in the DSM 5 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) or the ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, a medical classification list created by the World Health Organization) used by clinicians to assess their clients and therefore, they are not accurate diagnoses. 

·  MMHA recognizes that even though “sex addiction” is not a currently viable diagnosis, sexual behavior can become compulsive or problematic and interfere with overall healthy functioning for a variety of reasons.  MMHA supports sex-positive approaches to addressing these types of issues, which can cause significant distress for individuals, relationships, and communities. Dr. Neil Cannon, an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Supervisor of Sex Therapy states: “If someone is acting out in a way that feels out of control to them sexually, it’s usually caused by something else, some combination of mental health issues like anxiety, ADHD, OCD. The result is that many clients get shamed by spouses, family and friends for being a ‘sex addict’ when what they really needed was a supportive counseling experience founded in solid principles of psychotherapy and marriage counseling.”  Buster Ross, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s LGBTQ-Integrative Program Director states, “It’s not that the struggles aren’t real.  It’s just that professionals are not convinced that ‘sex addiction’ is its own condition, perhaps best understood as symptomatic of other underlying mental health disorders (ADHD, impulse disorders, trauma-related disorders, bipolar disorder, stimulant-use disorders).”

· MMHA is concerned with the common rhetoric currently found in Mormon culture where terms such as “sex addiction” are used to describe a wide range of behavior that usually has more to do with living certain religious or conservative values and standards than diagnosable criteria.  MMHA takes the stance that it is important to be able to distinguish the difference between supporting religious belief/values and unnecessarily pathologizing sexuality. MMHA encourages its practitioners to properly diagnose and treat underlying issues that may be affecting sexual or other types of human behavior. MMHA is concerned with the growing number of treatment centers, programs & trainings being developed that treat unwanted or out-of-control sexual behavior from an addictions model or by religiously-biased practitioners and that those within the Mormon population/culture are vulnerable to seeking incorrect and even harmful treatment for sexual issues.

It is for these reasons that MMHA does not endorse sex addiction treatment models. A paramount goal of MMHA includes helping the general public, ecclesiastical leaders, and health care professionals within the Mormon community work towards approaches and treatment modalities that promote healthy sexual education, sexual development, and relational intimacy.

* MMHA welcomes clinicians and educators who follow a sex addiction model to join the organization and be part of an ongoing dialogue, conferences and trainings. However, MMHA will not include “sex addiction” language or certifications on the website’s directories. The MMHA also reserves the right to not include clinicians or clinics that adopt these practices in its referral directories.

March 16, 2016

Position on Recent Changes to LDS Bishop's Handbook Affecting LGBTQ Families

This is an updated position from the one MMHA took on 11/6/2015 regarding the LDS policy changes affecting LGBTQ members and their families.  

The MMHA Board of Directors is deeply concerned regarding recent policy changes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops. These changes guide ecclesiastical leaders to label and discipline people in same-sex marriages as apostates and withhold the faith’s ordinances to the children found in such unions until the age of eighteen. Affected children could then only be eligible for full fellowship within the church if they move out of their homes, disavow their parents’ marital relationship and be approved by a member of the office of the First Presidency.

We believe these changes hold harmful implications for LDS LGBTQ members and their families. In spite of the ongoing efforts of the LDS church to stop marriage parity since the 1990’s, many LDS LGBTQ members have tried to stay engaged in their faith. This has been extremely difficult for these members and their families, as the only option the Church has allowed for an LGBTQ member to be considered worthy to fully participate in religious practice is physical and emotional celibacy.

Historically, the LDS church endorsed reparative therapies and other strategies whereby many members unsuccessfully tried to change their sexual orientation. With the backdrop of these practices and policies, the LDS Church has not been a safe haven for LGBTQ members, many of whom have suffered physically, emotionally and spiritually. Through the years the church has also witnessed high rates of suicide and homelessness among their LGBTQ youth. As a result of the recent policy changes, our concern for the well-being of LGBTQ members and their children and families is exacerbated.

The MMHA Board of Directors encourages both general and local leaders to be mindful and sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ members and their families. We encourage clinical and educator members of MMHA to prepare themselves to be spokespersons who advocate for LDS LBGTQ mental health. We encourage all mental health providers who are working with the LDS population to be aware of these issues and how they may impact a client’s mental health and well-being.

We encourage the general LDS membership to be loving, kind and sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ members (remembering that many are closeted) as they discuss these issues in their congregations, on-line communities and families. As with leaders, we should all familiarize ourselves with warning signs of suicide and suicide prevention resources.

Symptoms and Danger Signs: Warning Signs of Suicide

Suicide Prevention Program

Family Acceptance Project

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255

Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386

Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860

February 19, 2016

Support of Same Sex Marriage Legislation

The Mormon Mental Health Association (MMHA) supports the right of all committed couples and their families to equal legal benefits, protection, and responsibility in civil society. Therefore, we welcome the recent decision SCOTUS made regarding same sex marriage in the United States (June 2015).  We encourage government officials at any local, state, national or international level who have not already done so, to move towards the civil rights of all their citizens.  

September 10, 2015

Same Sex Parents and their Children

Position on Reparative or Conversion Therapy

The Mormon Mental Health Association (MMHA) takes the same position as every major psychological association on same sex orientation: it is not a mental disorder. Therefore, sexual orientation in of itself does not require treatment or intervention.

In fact, the MMHA takes a position against any therapy modalities, which have been developed to change, alter or reduce sexual orientation - usually referred to as Reparative or Conversion Therapy. Clinicians who sign the “Code of Ethics” of MMHA already agree not to engage in such practices. Oregon, California, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington, D.C. prohibit the practice of conversion therapy and just recently (June 2015) a New Jersey court ruled that this practice violated the Consumer Fraud Protection Act.

These therapy modalities tend to mostly take place within religious or conservative populations and communities. Therefore, we are concerned for the Mormon public, church leadership, parents and fellow clinicians as we strive to honor our shared faith and values while remaining educated and providing adequate and helpful services. In this spirit we share the following:

  1. Through a systematic review of research, reparative/conversion therapy has not shown to be successful in changing sexual orientation.
  2. Clinical studies have shown negative outcomes of reparative/conversion therapies to include, but not limited to: increased rates of clinical depression, suicide, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty sustaining relationships and sexual dysfunction.
  3. We warn that some of these treatment modalities have included unethical and inappropriate rituals.

Due to the harmful nature of reparative/conversion therapy, the MMHA calls upon parents to not seek these services for their children, on leaders* to not refer to such services and on therapists to not engage in this practice or associate with clinics who promote it. It also encourages government officials at any local, state, national or international level to ban its use.

*Referring congregants to conversion/reparative therapy or anything similar to it, would be a referral that is considered inconsistent with the LDS church handbook of instruction which states: "Local leaders should advise members . . . to consult with competent professional practitioners who are licensed in the countries where they practice" and should not use services "that are ethically or legally questionable".

August 23, 2015

SAMHSA: Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth

MMHA Response to a letter written by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding the Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage. 

As church members and leaders deal with and react to the recent ruling of the United States Supreme Court in regards to same-sex marriage (specifically the letter from the church that is to be read to US and Canada membership), the MMHA would like to make the following statement

We are concerned for the potential increased suicide risk for LGBTQ members of our congregations when the official response from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be read out loud in the coming weeks. We encourage leaders to follow the reading of the letter with a statement clarifying that regardless of where members stand on the political issues of our time, ALL are welcome and needed in our congregations. We encourage leaders to be mindful presiders of upcoming Fast and Testimony Meetings, Sunday School discussions and any other meetings where members may make comments that could be hurtful to those struggling and take protective measures to interrupt or correct such comments in loving ways. We urge all members and leaders to familiarize themselves with the materials of the Family Acceptance Project, which is a valuable resource for families, wards and stakes in helping with education and reducing suicide risk in a way that is respectful of the Church's stance and gospel principles.

July 4, 2015