How can faith communities and society better respond to mental illness?

How can faith communities and society better respond to mental illness? May 24, 2013

Today I post the last question in our conversation on mental health.  You will be able to read the answers to the first two questions in the following posts (I have not yet had a chance to collate the replies to the second one). You can also watch the recording of our video conversation with author Amy Simpson.

You can still submit an answer to any of the questions by linking your post to the relevant article and writing a comment there.

Question 1: How has faith shaped our view of mental illness?

Question 2: Suicide and Religious Faith

This week’s question:


How do you think that faith communities and society as a whole can better respond to mental illness?

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  • Amy Simpson

    “If one group can serve a thousand people, how many people can a
    thousand groups serve?” This vision-casting question came from Bob
    Mills, one of the people I wrote about in Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission.
    Bob’s church is First Presbyterian in Winston-Salem, North Carolina,
    one of four churches I profiled, which have intentional ministries to
    people affected by mental illness. These churches serve as inspiration
    and examples of what other churches, and other faith communities, can

    Bob is lead facilitator of the Bipolar Support Group ministry at
    First Presbyterian, a group that started in 2001 and has ministered to
    nearly 1,500 people since then. His interest in starting and
    perpetuating this ministry grew from his own experience with bipolar
    disorder and the spiritual crisis that came with it. With support from
    his pastoral staff, he has channeled his experience into a thriving
    ministry to help others on the same journey.

    As I shared in Troubled Minds, Bob said he wants other
    churches to “understand that this is the simplest and cheapest of all
    ministries, because all it takes is broken people who are willing to
    open up to God and allow him to work through them to heal them and then
    help them then become healers. It costs the church nothing other than
    whatever power it takes for us to turn on lights for an extra three
    hours. And what you get in exchange for that is truly amazing.”

    You can read the rest of my response here:

  • EmmaMavin
  • Frank Friedl

    First, I appreciate all of your posts over the past month. I hit this topic right after the Warren suicide with a series of my own. The one that answers this question probably the best is “This kind can come out only with prayer… and drugs” and talks about the church-stigma against medication and treatment.