Mental Illness and the Church's Mission
by Amy Simpson
"With mental illness on the rise, all church leaders would do well to read this theologically and psychologically compelling volume."
—Linda Lake, clinical psychologist
Drawing on her own family's history of mental illness, Amy Simpson provides a bracing look at the social and physical realities of mental illness and explores new possibilities for ministry to this stigmatized group.
"Mental illness is stigmatized in our culture. We carry old, superstitious ideas about it. People fear mental illness and marginalize those with mental illnesses in a way they don't treat people affected by other forms of disease."
We were all in crisis individually, protecting and preserving ourselves as best we could...We desperately needed an outside voice to lovingly name our trouble and call us together.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health and other experts, about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.
I hope we'll take a moment to learn a little more about the pervasive and serious nature of mental illness-and perhaps begin to speak more freely and surround suffering people with loving community.
"Amy Simpson takes you on a thoughtful, vulnerable and even painful journey through the complex landscape of mental illness."—John Ortberg
Visit Amy Simpson's blog and learn more about her work at her website here.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and Patheos is hosting a site-wide conversation on faith and mental illness. Click here for more, or see our blogger roundtable, below.
Mental illness may not be curable, but often does respond well to medical treatment. How tragic that so many Christians suffer in silence rather than seeking such help.
If church leaders cannot take the lead in addressing mental illness and bringing it into the open, how can they claim to be doing the very sorts of things the Bible calls them to do (i.e., loving, accepting, and serving the neediest and most marginalized among us)?
When churches ignore or marginalize mental illness, they fail at the most basic Christian calling: rescuing the perishing and loving the seemingly unlovable.
Michelle Van Loon
Though the book is written primarily to inform and motivate, it is also a love letter to the church she believes can rise up and care well for those who qualify as "the least of these".
Not to say that Catholics weren't guilty of neglecting the mentally ill at various times and in various places, but there have been some Catholic milestones in the history of dealing with the presence of the mentally ill in the community.
Carolyn Muir Roth
There's not much support in Hinduism for dealing with something like this because it is "in the mind" and our minds are what we are supposed to be learning to control.
Although many Christians believe that mental illness is as real and normal as physical illnesses, its existence threatens our notion of the "victorious Christian life."
Amy Simpson does a great job at exposing some of the myths surrounding mental illness and offers some mature advice. Amy speaks from both experience and research.
It's easy to say, "I just don't connect with her." Maybe it's time to retire that excuse.
When one's intellect is shattered by an illness like schizophrenia, complete with its hallucinations and delusions (not to mention countless less dramatic but no less debilitating symptoms), one cannot know the world, one's self, or one's God in the way one was meant to.
The Grace Alliance
We need to re:THINK church support. The focus is on relieving suffering and revealing Christ.
Stephen Grcevich, MD
From where I sit as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, there are two areas in which the church has the greatest potential for growth in ministering to families impacted by mental illness...
In my personal experience, the church has mostly chosen silence. When schizophrenia joined our family, this silence convinced me the church didn't want to hear my difficult questions about why my gentle and Jesus-loving mother had become a different person. And I figured that must mean God didn't have much to say about it either.
Way back then, in days of spiritual revival and reformation, these spiritual giants and geniuses had deep insights into depression's causes and cures that we would do well to learn from.
Jesus saw the angelic and the holy beneath layers of emotional and mental disease. He experienced God in their pleas and committed himself to bringing forth the divine hidden by all its "distressing disguises."
Meditation, and something about the Buddhist worldview, have been absolutely central to getting me out of that long, cold, dark tunnel so sterilely labeled "clinical depression."
The truth is, Christians get anxiety disorders at roughly the same rate as everyone else. This should not be a surprise.