A conversation about faith and mental illness

A conversation about faith and mental illness May 6, 2013

Several things seem to have come together to make the subject of mental illness and people of faith very topical.

One month ago tragedy struck the family of Rick Warren, one of America’s best known pastors. Since then many have been writing about mental health with a new conviction. Also, Amy Simpson has released her moving book Troubled Minds – Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission which is now featured on the Patheos Book Club.

May has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month, and you can read more about that on the National Institute of Mental Health webpage, here is what Barack Obama said in launching the month:

“Today, tens of millions of Americans are living with the burden of a mental health problem. They shoulder conditions like depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorder — debilitating illnesses that can strain every part of a person’s life. And even though help is out there, less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive treatment. During National Mental Health Awareness Month, we shine a light on these issues, stand with men and women in need, and redouble our efforts to address mental health problems in America.

For many, getting help starts with a conversation. People who believe they may be suffering from a mental health condition should talk about it with someone they trust and consult a health care provider. As a Nation, it is up to all of us to know the signs of mental health issues and lend a hand to those who are struggling. Shame and stigma too often leave people feeling like there is no place to turn. We need to make sure they know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness — it is a sign of strength. To find treatment services nearby, call 1-800-662-HELP. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers immediate assistance for all Americans, including service members and veterans, at 1-800-273-TALK. . .” READ THE REST

The people who run Patheos have asked me to host a broad conversation about Mental Health including bloggers from across Patheos and beyond. You are invited to contribute by answering the question below any time this week. There are also two more questions which will follow.

If you write your own blog, please consider joining in. If you know a blogger who might like to take part let them know. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to write your contribution in the comments section on each of the “reply” pages. At the end of the week I will be collecting quotes and links from a sample of the contributions and posting them on those pages, and they will also appear on the Patheos book club page.

The First question is:

How has your religious community historically seen mental illness? – And how does your faith, today, shape the way you see mental illness?   REPLIES

The Second question is:

Research suggests that religious faith protects against suicide. Why do you think that is in light of how your community responds to suicide? How can we tread the fine line of discouraging suicide while not making the grief of family members worse?  REPLIES


When you write an article in response to this question, it will help us include your posts if you link to it in the comments section of the posts listing replies.

You can join us for a live Google Hangout on Wednesday.

I have also written a number of times already about mental illness in recent weeks:

Please also feel free to respond specifically to those posts, or to take the discussion in a different direction entirely. Keep checking back here, or at the Patheos Book Club page to follow the whole conversation.

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