Mental Health Ministries

Books

The books included in this section have been lifted up in our e-Spotlights. While it is not possible to include all books addressing spirituality/faith and mental illness, we will continue to add book titles that we feature in our e-Spotlights. In most cases there is a link to purchasing these books. Susan Gregg Schroeder’s book, In the Shadow of God’s Wings: Grace in the Midst of Depression, is available for purchase on this website.

In the Shadow of God's Wings: Grace in the Midst of Depression

(Book: click here for more information | Study Guide: click here for more information)

In the Shadow of God's Wings: Grace in the Midst of DepressionIn taking us on her personal journey into depression, Gregg-Schroeder encourages a new understanding of the spiritual gifts that can come from depression. Autographed by Susan Gregg-Schroeder.

Written to accompany Gregg-Schroeder's book, In the Shadow of God's Wings: Group Study Guide provides small-group leaders with the material needed to facilitate a four-session study.

Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman's Journey with Depression and Faith

(Available on Amazon)

Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman's Journey with Depression and FaithIn gripping fashion, Monica Coleman examines the ways that the legacies of slavery, war, sharecropping, poverty, and alcoholism mask a family history of mental illness. Those same forces accompanied her into the black religious traditions and Christian ministry. All the while, she wrestled with her own bipolar disorder. Bipolar Faith is both a spiritual autobiography and a memoir of mental illness. In this powerful book, Coleman shares her life-long dance with trauma, depression, and the threat of death. Citing serendipitous encounters with black intellectuals like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Angela Davis, and Renita Weems, Coleman offers a rare account of how the modulated highs of bipolar II can lead to professional success, while hiding a depression that even her doctors rarely believed. Only as she was able to face her illness was she able to live faithfully with bipolar.

A Common Struggle

(Available on Amazon)

A Common StrugglePatrick J. Kennedy, the former congressman and youngest child of Senator Ted Kennedy, details his personal and political battle with mental illness and addiction, exploring mental health care's history in the country alongside his and every family's private struggles.

Trauma Training Curriculum: Risking Connection

(Available on Amazon)

Risking ConnectionThis newest book in Sidran Institute’s Risking Connection® training curriculum series focuses on the healing role that clergy of all denominations can play in the lives of trauma survivors in their congregations. As many as one in four of the people you encounter may have been deeply wounded by life experiences. When clergy were surveyed, it was found that many were not confident in their ability to support trauma survivors in congregational settings. This book will help clergy understand the nature of psychological trauma, how it affects people, and how faith leaders can help. Because the book is addressed to spiritual leaders, particular attention is paid to the spiritual impact of trauma. This curriculum explains the effects of trauma focuses on the need for growth-promoting relationships explores the connection between trauma and spiritual distress recognizes the value of spirituality in recovery addresses the impact of trauma on the helper looks at how faith communities can promote healing.

Catholic Guide to Depression

(Available on Amazon)

The Catholic Guide to DepressionCountless Christians - including scores of saints - have suffered profound, pervasive sorrow that modern psychiatrists call "depression." Then, as now, great faith and even fervent spiritual practices have generally failed to ease this wearying desolation of soul. Catholic psychiatrist Aaron Kheriaty reviews the effective ways that have recently been devised to deal with this grave and sometimes deadly affliction - ways that are not only consistent with the teachings of the Church, but even rooted in many of those teachings.

Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal

(Available on Amazon)

Welcome Them Home Help Them HealNo two veterans have the same war experience, nor, upon returning from war do they face exactly the same reintegration challenges. Likewise, veterans heal and recover in their own ways and along their own timelines. Working together, compassionate, knowledgeable, and skilled caregivers, friends, and professionals can give veterans life-saving and life-giving care and support. Several chapters of the book are dedicated to helping faith communities minister effectively to returning soldiers by outlining the basic principles for outreach, providing guidelines for creating a welcoming and safe environment, and sharing ideas for activating the healing rituals of the church year.

Restoring the Healer: Spiritual Self-Care for Health Professionals

(Available at Templeton Press)

Restoring the Healer: Spiritual Self-Care for Health Care ProfessionalsBurn out. Two words that haunt those in high stress jobs, especially in the medical profession. Long hours and the literal life-and-death nature of the field creates expectations to not only be on call at all hours, but to be at one’s best, even at 3:00 AM after a twenty-hour shift. So much energy is devoted to the care of others that self-care is forgotten. Yet, more are noticing and research confirms that self-care is needed, not only for personal sanity but also for quality of work. Unwell medical professionals are not the best at treating others. And this self-care includes not just rest, food, and water, but a deeper care, one that tends the spiritual side as well.

From working as a hospital chaplain for over 18 years, Rev. Dorman recognizes the stresses that come to those who have made it their profession to heal others. Healers need healing too—and this guide is the first step.

Voices in the Rain: Meaning in Psychosis

(Available on Amazon)

Voices in the RainThis is the story of a woman's struggle with mental illness through which she finds spiritual meaning and, ultimately, God. As a person who has experienced severe psychiatric illness and landed on her feet, Marcia A. Murphy offers a unique first-person perspective. She is qualified to tell what such illness is like, its symptoms, stigmatization, hospitalizations, and daily life. Ms. Murphy takes you into her world and provides insights into the spiritual meaning of her illness. Her story gives desperately needed hope to others who are ill, their families, psychiatric professionals, as well as to those who know someone who is ill. 

Wrestling with Our Inner Angels: Faith, Mental Illness, and the Journey to Wholeness

(Available on Amazon)

Wrestling with our Inner AngelsWrestling with Our Inner Angels is Nancy Kehoe's compelling, intimate, and moving story of how she brought her background as a psychologist and a nun in the Religious of the Sacred Heart to bear in the groups she formed to explore the role of faith and spirituality in their treatment - and in their lives. Through fascinating stories of her own spiritual journey, she gives readers of all backgrounds and interests new insights into the inner lives of the mentally ill and new ways of thinking about the role of spirituality and faith in all our lives.


Souls in the Hands of a Tender God

(Available on Amazon)

Souls in the Hands of a Tender GodSince 1987, Craig Rennebohm has ministered to people who are homeless and struggling with mental illness. In Souls in the Hands of a Tender God, he tells the evocative stories of those who desperately need psychiatric, psychological, and spiritual support, like Mary, who surrounds herself with bulging trash bags, and Jerry, barred from every shelter and meal program in Seattle. With gentleness and grace, solid knowledge and wisdom, Rennebohm reaches out to each of them, and their stories become parables that explore mental illness and the spiritual heart of care and recovery.

Learning to Walk in the Dark

(Available on Amazon)

Learning to Walk in the DarkBarbara Brown Taylor is an ordained Episcopal priest and a New York Times bestselling author.  In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor reflects on finding strength and comfort in troubled times.  She has become increasingly uncomfortable with our tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well?

In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” She argues that we need to move away from our “solar spirituality” and ease our way into appreciating “lunar spirituality” (since, like the moon, our experience of the light waxes and wanes). Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most. 

Darkness is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness

(Available on Amazon)

Darkness is My Only CompanionWhere is God in the suffering of a mentally ill person? What happens to the soul when the mind is ill? How are Christians to respond to mental illness? In this brave and compassionate book, theologian and priest Kathryn Greene-McCreight confronts these difficult questions raised by her own mental illness--bipolar disorder. With brutal honesty, she tackles often avoided topics such as suicide, mental hospitals, and electroconvulsive therapy. Greene-McCreight offers the reader everything from poignant and raw glimpses into the mind of a mentally ill person to practical and forthright advice for their friends, family, and clergy.

The first edition has been recognized as one of the finest books on the subject. This thoroughly revised edition incorporates updated research and adds anecdotal and pastoral commentary. It also includes a new foreword by the current Archbishop of Canterbury and a new afterword by the author.

Finding God: Praying the Psalms in Times of Depression

(Available on Amazon)

Finding God: Praying the Psalms in Times of DepressionIn this small yet immensely helpful guide, pastor Thomas Lewis offers spiritual resources for the many persons today suffering from depression. By turning his readers toward praying the Psalms, as he did in his own battle with depression, Lewis assists those seeking hope and a healing touch to find, in his words, "a cup of cold water in parched land." He speaks frankly about his own battle with deep depression; discusses the types of depression, the symptoms, and where to get help; and then lays out several Psalms of lament that can support people in times of depression and form a foundation for all other approaches to treating the illness. This book will prove to be a valuable resource for those engaged in pastoral care and counseling, for those who have loved ones suffering from depression, and persons suffering from depression themselves.

A Pastor's Guide for the Shadow of Depression

(Available from the Wesleyan Publishing House)

A Pastor's Guide for the Shadow of DepressionPastors face unique challenges and unrealistic expectations that can lead to feelings of failure, deep sadness, and depression. Too often they feel no one understands, as if there’s nowhere to turn.  In this book, Dr. Gary Lovejoy comes alongside pastors to help them recognize when they may be depressed so they can find help and make needed changes. Even more, Dr. Lovejoy identifies assertive ways pastors can address critical issues before the shadows begin to envelop them.  Depression is a warning sign that won’t simply go away on its own. Every pastor should read this guide, even if they’ve never felt depressed. It may be the lifeline you need at a critical time. 

Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family and the Church

(Available on Amazon)

Blessed Are the CrazyIn Blessed Are the Crazy, Sarah Griffith Lund, a United Church of Christ minister, looks back at her father’s battle with bipolar disorder, and the helpless sense of déjà vu as her brother and cousin endure mental illness as well. With a small group study guide and “Ten Steps for Developing a Mental Health Ministry in Your Congregation. on,” Blessed Are the Crazy is more than a memoir—it’s a resource for churches and other faith-based groups to provide healing and comfort.

A Pelican in the Wilderness: Depression, Psalms, Ministry and Movies

(Available on Amazon)

A Pelican in the Wilderness: Depression, Psalms, Ministry and MoviesAfter serving for more than thirty years as a parish minister, Robert W. Griggs was hospitalized with major depression. This is the story of his depression and recovery and a recovery of health, vocation, and faith. First, Griggs regained the experience of small pleasures. Eventually, he recovered the ability to choose, to set limits, and to accept reality. He then turned to the biblical Psalms-indeed his own writing echoes their candor. But he also found hope in films, including Breakfast at Tiffany's and Blazing Saddles. To the mental health issues facing clergy and others in the helping professions Griggs brings to bear insights from research and from his own experience as a pastor and a person recovering from depression. He tells his story with spirit and humor.

Deeply Woven Roots: Improving the Quality of Life in Your Community

(Available on Amazon)

Deeply Woven Roots: Improving the Quality of Life in Your CommunityWith insight born of experience and conviction, The Carter Center's Gary Gunderson suggests ways that congregations, religious leaders, and concerned individuals can take practical steps to improve the health of their communities. Eminently practical yet deeply religious, Gunderson's book will help people of faith nurture community life at its roots.

A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression

(Available on Amazon)

A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen DepressionDepression and related illnesses threaten to wreck the lives of many teens and their families. Suicide driven by these illnesses is one of the top killers of young people. How do teens become depressed? What does depression feel like? How can we identify it? What helps depressed teens? What hurts them? How do families cope with teen depression?

In A Relentless Hope, Dr. Gary Nelson uses his experience as a pastor and pastoral counselor to guide the reader through an exploration of these and many other questions about depression in teens. He's worked with many teens over the years offering help to those confronted by this potentially devastating illness. The author also uses the story of his own son's journey through depression to weave together insights into the spiritual, emotional, cognitive, biological, and relational dimensions of teen depression. The book is written for those without formal clinical training, so it appeals to teens, parents, teachers, pastors, and any who walk with the afflicted through this valley of the shadow of death. Through careful analysis, candid self-revelation, practical advice, and even humor, this pastor, counselor, and father, reminds us God's light of healing can shine through the darkness of depression and offer hope for struggling teens and their families. 

When Your Family is Living with Mental Illness

(Available on ChristianBook.com)

When Your Family Is Living With Mental IllnessMental illness is a disease like any other. Those dealing with mental illness, whether in their family or with a friend, can be confused or frustrated by a disease that is unpredictable and detrimental. With straight-forward spiritual guidance, this volume is perfect for anyone affected by mental illness. The author, Marcia Lund, uses practical suggestions for encouraging the reader to reconnect spiritually with God. This book can help sufferers resolve issues and find peace.

Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression

(Available on Amazon)

Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and DepressionDr. Monica Coleman stands at the intersection of two worlds that don’t have a natural intersection: faith and science. She is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a professor at Claremont School of Theology, and suffers from mental illness. In her 2012 book, Not Alone, she wedded her belief system to her condition, going so far as saying she finds God in her pills. Not Alone is a 40-day devotional wrestling with some of the tough issues around faith and depression.  Weaving together theological reflection, medical research and personal experiences, Not Alone offers readers and opportunity to explore and reflect on their own understandings.  

Strength for His People: A Ministry for Families of the Mentally Ill

(Available on Amazon)

Strength For His People: A Ministry for Families of the Mentally IllRev. Steven Waterhouse is one of the pioneers in educating clergy and congregations about mental illness.  He spoke at the NAMI national convention at the NAMI FaithNet networking session.  Waterhouse’s book explains mental illness from a Biblical worldview. It may serve as a guide for Christian counselors working with schizophrenia and related problems such as depression, why God allows suffering, mental illness vs. demon possession, and other topics helpful to families of faith.

 

Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission

(Available on Amazon)

Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's MissionMental illness is the sort of thing we don’t like to talk about. It doesn’t reduce nicely to simple solutions and happy outcomes. So instead, too often we reduce people who are mentally ill to caricatures and ghosts, and simply pretend they don’t exist. They do exist, however—statistics suggest that one in four people suffer from some kind of mental illness. And then there are their friends and family members, who bear their own scars and anxious thoughts, and who see no safe place to talk about the impact of mental illness on their lives and their loved ones. Many of these people are sitting in churches week after week, suffering in stigmatized silence.

In Troubled Minds Amy Simpson, whose family knows the trauma and bewilderment of mental illness, reminds us that people with mental illness are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ, and she shows us the path to loving them well and becoming a church that loves God with whole hearts and whole souls, with the strength we have and with minds that are whole as well as minds that are troubled.

Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness

(Available on Amazon)

Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental IllnessEach day men and women diagnosed with mental disorders are told they need to pray more and turn from their sin. Mental illness is equated with demonic possession, weak faith and generational sin. Why is it that the church has struggled in ministering to those with mental illnesses? As both a church leader and professor of psychology and neuroscience, Michael S. Stanford has seen far too many mentally ill brothers and sisters damaged by well-meaning believers who respond to them out of fear or misinformation rather than grace.

Grace for the Afflicted is written to educate Christians about mental illness from both biblical and scientific perspectives. Stanford presents insights into our physical and spiritual nature and discusses the appropriate role of psychology and psychiatry in the life of the believer. Describing common mental disorders, Stanford asks of each: "What does science say and what does the Bible say about this illness?"

Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families

(Available from Fortress Press | Available on Amazon)

Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their FamiliesAs a pastoral caregiver, you may have met with someone in your congregation who persistently demonstrated a sad, morose mood…or someone who suffered from an addiction…or someone whose behavior seemed out of touch with reality. But you may not have understood what these attitudes and behaviors meant, and you may not have known what you ought to do in response. Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families brings together the voices of eighteen psychiatrists and pastoral theologians who collaborate to offer recent information about mental illness, to interpret mental illness in the light of faith, and to suggest effective ministerial responses. This book offers an integrated dialogue between psychiatrists and pastoral caregivers that can surface the most relevant information for readers. It also seeks to encourage conversation among people in congregations around the experiences of a faith community when someone is diagnosed with a mental illness. Specific illnesses addressed include depression, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, substance-use disorders, eating disorders, autism, acquired brain injury, and dementia. A concluding chapter discusses psychopharmacology. One unique element of this book is the extensive bibliography that appears at the end of each chapter. Many of the items in these bibliographies are web-based resources that feature free information and help.

Here is credible information on the realities of mental illness and how pastors and congregations can best respond. Robert H. Albers, William H. Meller, Steven D. Thurber, Editors. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012.

Counseling for the Soul in Distress: What Every Pastor Should Know About Emotional and Mental Illness

(Available on Amazon)

Counseling for the Soul in Distress: What Every Pasotr Should Know About Emotional and Mental IllnessClinical psychologist Richard Roukema understands the common roles played by clergy and psychiatrists who care for congregants struggling with mental and emotional illnesses. He appreciates the spiritual dimension of healing as an integral part of care for the emotionally distressed religious patient. This book examines the history of psychiatry, addresses current research into brain chemistry, and discusses the success of modern medicine to correct or control symptoms of mental disorders.

Roukema systematically addresses a wide range of mood disorders, neuroses, personality disorders and traits, sexual and eating disorders, and the effects of loss and stress. He provides clear and useful information aimed at giving clergy the necessary tools to recognize and understand the care and treatment that might be appropriate for the affected person. He consistently points to ways the clergy can most effectively provide support and resources for the patient and family. Issues of pastoral ethics, as well as self-care, are addressed. Roukema concludes with guidance in the referrals of patients.

What could have been a voluminous text filled with medical jargon and little contact with the role of clergy turns out to be a concise, yet thorough, educational and reference book that deserves a special place on the bookshelf of pastors and counselors alike. Seminaries would do well to consider using this text in courses on pastoral care and counseling.

Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder

(Download PDF file | Available from the International Bipolar Foundation)

Healthy Living with Bipolar DisorderThe International Bipolar Foundation (IBF) has released a second edition of their free book, Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder.  This resource has a wealth of helpful information divided into three sections: About Bipolar Depression, Healthy Living and Resources.  The chapters address topics such as treatment modalities, suicide, substance abuse, stigma, family relationships, college students, work place and support for caregivers.  A chapter, “Mental Illness and Families of Faith” was written by Susan Gregg-Schroeder. 

Amazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability and Inclusion

(Available on Amazon)

Amazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability and InclusionAmazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability, and Inclusion is a new publication by noted religion writer Mark I. Pinsky. Pinsky has gathered stories from churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples across the country, "stories of people with disabilities and the congregations where they have found welcome." He has taken special care to include the widest range of disabilities, including non-apparent disabilities like lupus, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, depression, and mental illness. There were 54 million American with disabilities as of 2000, and that number is now being swelled by wounded warriors from the Afghan and Iraq wars and an aging population.

The author emphasizes that his purpose is to not to write a resource manual on accessibility and inclusion. Rather, Pinsky seeks to share stories of how people with disabilities have experienced their faith in the context of their disability, and how congregations have gained when they value the gifts that people with disabilities bring along. "This book," notes the author, "is for congregational leaders and others who may have no expertise or personal experience with disability, but who make the congregational decisions about accessibility and inclusion."

The book is divided into three parts: Empowering People and Congregations, Ministry by People with Disabilities and Family Members in Ministry.

The Minister's Guide to Psychological Disorders and Treatment, Second Edition

(Available on Amazon)

The Minister's Guide to Psychological Disorders and TreatmentsThe Minister’s Guide to Psychological Disorders and Treatments, 2nd ed, is written by W. Brad Johnson and William L. Johnson, widely renowned religious psychotherapists and psychotherapy researchers.  This book is described by the publisher as “a thorough yet succinct guide to everything a minister might need to know about the most common psychological disorders and the most useful mental-health treatments. Written in straightforward and accessible language, this is the minister’s one-stop guide to understanding common mental health problems, helping parishioners who struggle with them, and thinking strategically about whether to refer—and if so, to whom. This thoroughly updated edition is fully aligned with the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and the latest evidence regarding evidence-based psychological treatments. The second edition also contains a new chapter on ministerial triage as well as additions to the DSM-V such as autism spectrum disorder and somatic symptom disorders. Written with deep empathy for the demands of contemporary pastoring, this guide is destined to become an indispensable reference work for busy clergy in all ministry roles and settings.” 

Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn't Enough

(Available through Saddleback Church)

Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn't EnoughWhy are some people—even in the toughest times—always filled with joy, while most of us can't seem to find lasting joy no matter how hard we search? Do joy-filled people know something we don't? The answer is yes! And in her warm, candid style, Kay Warren shares that life-transforming truth with you.

Sparks of Redemptive Grace - Seeking and Seeing God Amid a Loved One's Mental Illness

(Available on Amazon)

Sparks of Redemptive GraceMental illness impacts one out of five families each year, but few ae willing to expose the angish and tumult they face daily. Infomational, devotional, educational and inspirationa, Sparks of Redemptive Grace provides and authentic view of one family’s transparent hope in God’s unfailing love. For those whose loved one struggles with mental illness, Catherine Downing has shared her story with sincerity, humility and hope. For friends watching the chaos surrounding such struggles and wanting to understand, this book will open your eyes not only to the family’s needs, but also to the presence of God in their midst. For clergy and counselors looking for resources to support families in crisis, Sparks of Redemptive Grace offers comforting truths about God’s very real presence in times of trouble.