Christianity has a checkered history when it comes to supporting those who live with mental illness. On the one hand, we have a rich tradition of lament that can help people express deep pain. On the other hand, faith is sometimes held up as a cure-all, as if believing in a loving God can adjust brain chemistry on demand. As we come to recognize that journeys with mental illness can be long, even lasting the entirety of someone’s life in some cases, and can require much support, it is important that all of us, especially those of us in ministry, learn how best to embody that support. Here are six books on the topic of supporting those with mental illness.
Steve Austin (Author), Robert W. Lee (Foreword by)
In 2012, Steve Austin, then a pastor, nearly died by suicide. He began to wonder: if church folks had talked openly about mental health, therapy, suicide prevention, recovery from abuse, and other difficult issues, would that have changed his story? Hiding in the Pews challenges and equips pastors and lay leaders to transform their communities into places where people who are suffering will find a sense of safety and belonging.
Emmy Kegler (Author)
In All Who Are Weary, Emmy Kegler joins the reader on the long walk of reflection, understanding, and compassion, calling followers of Jesus back to ancient practices of lament, vulnerability, honesty, community, and hope. This book is not a map to a cure, nor a perfectly restorative prayer. Written with a wide community in mind—patients, but also parents and partners, coworkers and friends, pastors and therapists, and the whole church—All Who Are Weary points to the embodied grace known in Jesus, trusting in the promise of a lighter load for all.
Karen A. McClintock (Author)
In Trauma-Informed Pastoral Care, pastoral psychologist Karen A. McClintock offers clergy competence and confidence as they care for trauma victims in their congregations and communities, provides practical skills to lower the risk of secondary trauma, and suggests culturally sensitive models for healing.
Barbara C. Crafton (Author)
Religious belief can make depression easier, but it can also make it harder. Crafton’s beautiful and candid book reminds readers that God does not ordain our suffering but instead meets us in our darkest days to compassionately call us toward the light.
Robert H. Albers (Editor), William H. Meller (Editor), Steven D. Thurber (Editor)
In Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families, Second Edition, psychiatrists and pastoral theologians come together in an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort to ensure accuracy of information concerning the medical dimensions of mental illness, interpret these illnesses from a faith perspective, and make suggestions relative to effective ministry. Readers will learn how science and a faith tradition can not only co-exist but work in tandem to alleviate the pain of the afflicted and affected.
Elizabeth L. Hinson-Hasty (Author), Bill Gaventa (Foreword by)
Dutiful Love explores the distinctive relationship between self-sacrificial love and caregiving when that duty to care extends over the course of an entire lifetime because of social limitations placed upon people with severe mental illness. The author draws upon her own experiences as the sibling of someone with mental illness. The book includes discussion questions, making it an ideal resource for individual reflection, church study groups, and college, seminary, and university classrooms.