I'd think that issues of invalidation would occur when people think of leaving or when they no longer believe in the religion or when that particular worldview does not work for them. so this period would definitely make mental health conditions much worse and I guess we need to think in terms of looking after ourselves during this period, getting professional help, medication etc
While i agree with steve2 `s assesment to a point it is not only mental illness that attracts people to the religion of Jehovahs Witnesses and then is exacerbated by it ,Vulnerability , low self esteem ,being an isolationist ,not being able to mix freely with others ,hermit like tendencies ,while they in themselves dont warrant mental illness do indicate a lack of fitting in with "normal" society and are rife for the utopian like society that the WTB&TS provides.
To be attracted to the JW message, an individual in some crucial ways, likely already feels at odds with life and the world, is probably already cynical about "this system" and "the churches" and just wants out. Again, the Witnesses message has huge attraction for people who feel beaten down about life. Their message seldom, if ever, appeals to people who are already engaged in leading happy and successful lives.
Steve2, you hit the nail on the head there. How many times on the door to door ministry did we notice the big rich families with nice houses and cars were NEVER interested? And we'd walk away and say "they're having their paradise now" etc.
Ruby, I was careful to avoid any reference to mental-health statistics or prevalence rates among JWs because these simply don't exist.
What I drew upon - as indeed others have - is personal experience and observations of others.
Yes, religious beliefs can give a very consoling backdrop to life's stresses and strains - provided individuals feel valued and loved in their communities.
As has been observed, however, JW communities can be very punishing places emotionally and spiritually for individuals who struggle to do all that is expected of them. That circumstance is hardly the setting within which a mental-illness-free zone occurs.
In my own age cohort I knew of at least 5 and possibly 2 other JW raised youth who committed suicide - and that was in my locality alone. This was shocking enough but what is more shocking is the incidence of mental-health disorders and/or suicidal behaviour being reported by others. You don't need an armful of statistics to realise there is something about the high-control JW environment that leads untold numbers of young people who see no way out other than suicide. It is absolutely no relief to say that young people in general face a greater likelihood of engaging in suicidal behavior anyway. Where is the touted benefits and protections of having "the truth" ( to quote that irksome phrase)? Where is the grasp of understanding within the organization's leadership that its own youth are struggling due to the environment itself ? Youth need and deserve more than FOG-based warnings about the world and pep talks and platitudes about doing more for the kingdom.
Speaking of exacerbation and exasperation . . . and exaggeration.
If you are an eager Christian male, reaching out to do fine works, there is the element of getting dumped on. Of course, men AND women in the organization who are, by nature helpful and giving, receive the "difficult cases." How could they possibly say no to someone in need?
I can't speak for others, but I naively figured that in helping others I helped myself. True enough; however, Dr. Dixon, Bethel physician, told me that I was not so bright for burning the candle at both ends. How does a young indentured servant say no? There was the Bethel assignment, five and one half days a week, going out every night to meetings and/or service, and the entire weekend (after work, Saturday) out in service and doing shepherding. Oh, yeah -- more meetings and cleaning afterwards. Did I mention going to upstate New York and setting up new groups?
Now, to my point about exacerbation and exasperation. We often were assigned to help needy Witnesses with matters beyond spiritual: health, employment, legal, etc. I was in a foreign language congregation and few brothers and sisters knew English. Imagine guiding these poor souls through a maze of obstacles in relation to such trying matters. They came to America to work and send money home to impoverished families whom they missed terribly. Our trying to help them resolve these issues while maintaining our own balance was beyond hope.
And, in future congregational situations, the "special needs" friends created problems for us due to their inability to function on their own. After a while, sleepless nights and daily confrontation with seemingly unsolvable problems take their toll. There is no escape.
To survive, you -- the helpful, giving brother or sister -- have to quit. The above, you probably will agree, is no exaggeration of the facts. Suicide is the last desperate cry when there truly appears no help. I came close often, but many friends -- including fellow Bethelites -- ran away to find relief. Some stayed in the organization, but, either at Bethel or later on, ended their lives.
Then, for those managing to hold on, but barely, there's the FOG . . .
I haven't read all the comments, but what I have noticed that many witnesses come from some type of home that had some type issues, well all families have issues, but witnesses that have deep issues seem to be attracted to the religion. If you have issues the hall can be a place of comfort...but as I mentioned in another topic, if you ever came from a pretty decent home and you became a witness, you will start to see that you don't fit...because you are well adjusted....
If you are a little odd/misfit, the witnesses will embrace you, but they will ruin you, because you'll either never feel you are good enough or think too much of yourselves...
I know now that even though I like my congregation, I don't fit.....I came from a nice family and they loved me and taught me how to navigate this life....
Mental illness in the org...one day take a random pix of witnesses....no light in their eyes...
according to suicide stats in Australia 1 in 7000 approx commit suicide each year.
Among Jehovah's witnesses there ought to be 9 suicides per year to reflect what is happening in the general population.
Bear in mind that relatives of Jehovah's witnesses come to JWN - some may be very depressed themselves and then to feel suicide rate is high among Jehovas witnessess when it is not compared to the general population - is going to make them feel more depressed and determined to fight something that they cannot win - will make them feel worse. Perhaps a little context will make them feel a little better
in australia amongst young people
- Suicide rates for 15 to 24-year-olds at highest rate in 10 years
- A third of all deaths of young men are due to suicide
- 41,000 young people aged 12-17 have made a suicide attempt
- Twice as many 15 to 19-year-old women died by suicide than in 2005
- Suicide rates have increased for children under the age of 14
- One-quarter of women aged 16-17 years old have self-harmed
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQ, seriously mentally ill youth are at high risk
edit:re teen suicide in general population in the US
Teen Suicide is Preventable
Teen suicide is a growing health concern. It is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.
What the Research Shows
Teen suicide is a growing health concern. It is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, surpassed only by homicide and accidents, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Their have been a few investigations in the world linking the mental capacity of Jehovahs witnesses and whether the religion improved their mental position or was responsible for decreased mental capacity in its adherants.
Was the religion responsible for decreased mental capacity ,or were the mentally unstable more likely to have joined the religion.
From memory I think one might have been conducted by the Netherlands ? (in Europe anyway)
Another I believe was conducted by someone in Western Australia.
In Britain there ought to have been 6 suicides amongst Jehovah's witnesses last year to reflect what is happening in the general population.
smiddy - in actual fact religion prevents suicide and this includes Jehovah's witnesses. lets at least get real!