Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Dr. Holly Welker, a writer and critical analyst, and Daniel Lancaster, a clinical social worker, to discuss issues relating to the mental health of LDS missionaries while out in the field – specifically when physical or emotional trauma are involved. Holly Welker served a mission back in the 1980’s in Taiwan and shares her experience of suffering from a brain injury and being treated for depression while on her mission. She has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Iowa and has written for a variety of magazines in regards to her LDS experiences. Daniel Lancaster served a mission in Jamaica and is a psychotherapist who specializes in vicarious trauma and helping people adjusting from missionary service among many other mental health themes.
Holly, Daniel and Natasha discuss issues members of the church face as they prepare to go on missions, during their missions and as they return from the service they gave. They challenge some of the cultural messaging (i.e. exactness, obedience, equational correlation, etc.) members of the LDS Church can be part of changing to help missionaries have healthier expectations, avoid ecclesiastical abuse, and have access to better resources and support networks as problems arise.
Iron Gates: The Story and Psychology of a Mormon Missionary In Jamaica by Daniel Lancaster
The Huffington Post on Holly Welker
Mormon Mental Health Association for clinical resources
Through the Narrow Gate: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery by Karen Armstrong
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to Brian Dillman for audio production of this podcast. Natasha Helfer Parker runs a private practice in Wichita, KS and writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith.
Donations to Mormon Mental Health are tax deductible and go directly to support the costs of producing the podcast. If and when donations exceed these costs, they will go to support trainings, research, materials development, and financial support for those who need help affording appropriate therapy services.