Sidelining the Stigma of Mental Illness
The shocking recent suicide of pastor Rick Warren's 27-year-old son, Matthew, launched thought-provoking discussion about the difficulties of coping with mental illness in the church. In the midst of his grief, Warren spoke honestly and vulnerably about the stigma and judgmental attitudes that kept his son's depression in the shadows for far too long.
Amy Simpson confronts these attitudes in Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission (InterVarsity Press), an excellent introduction to the realities of mental illness. Simpson challenges the church to step up its ministry to this vulnerable population.
The book includes a look at Scripture, Simpson's survey of 500 churches, and sensitive accounts of many Christians struggling with mental illness themselves or alongside a family member. She argues that although the topic of mental illness is now discussed openly in the broader culture, the church often remains stuck in the dark ages. Many still hold a neo-Gnostic theology, believing depression and other mental illness are caused by unrepentant sin.
Simpson poignantly describes her mother's severe and chronic mental illness. She weaves her stories with those of others. Many people were eager to be heard, and were grateful that someone in the church is finally paying attention.
Troubled Minds offers a thorough and well-researched overview of the realities of mental illness. But Simpson does not resort to professional jargon. The book's real strength lies in Simpson's empathy for those she interviewed, and the compassionate retelling of their stories. Readers will be far better prepared to care for those in their midst who struggle with mental illness. Finally, the book offers hope, ...