Welcome to the ‘Troubled Minds’ Book Launch Blog Party!

My new book is officially out: Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission. I’m excited to see this project come to fruition; this has been a long and heartfelt process for me and has involved so many conversations withDSC_0126 others about their experiences. It feels great to see all these stories get out there and begin to do whatever work God has for them.

In honor of the book’s launch, I’m hosting a blog party, right here, right now–and you’re my guest! I would love to read your comments on why you think the church needs a book like this. Maybe you have a personal story to share, an informed opinion, or a prayer as the book goes out into the world.

Ultimately, this book is not about me, or even about my mother’s schizophrenia. It’s not about the church or the people who walk through the doors of local church buildings. It’s about God, his love for all of us despite our deep flaws and diseases, and the calling he has for all of us to love him and love others.

I hope Troubled Minds will inspire the church–that includes everyone who follows Jesus–to better understand mental illness, to see our neighbors differently, and to embrace the idea that loving people affected by mental illness is part of our core mission in this life.

Here’s a short excerpt from the book, a snapshot of why I wrote it:

So why does all this matter? If counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists are well-equipped to treat people with mental illness and to help them manage and even heal, why is people’s experience in the church so important?

Because God cares deeply about the sick and marginalized. He judged the people of Israel harshly because “They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans.” (Is 10:2). Who is more needy than people suffering from disorders that distort their perceptions of reality itself?’

Because Jesus came “to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Lk 4:18-19). He sent out his apostles with instructions to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!” (Mt 10:8).

Because Jesus said, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Mt 5:3). Who is more aware of their daily need for God than the depressed, anxiety ridden, befuddled, lonely, and emotionally unstable among us? God sees these people, loves them, calls them to him, and calls us to love them.

Because the church is the first place many people go when they need help of all kinds, including help with symptoms of mental illness.

Because the church represents God and is equipped by the Holy Spirit to pour out Jesus’ love on this world. And when someone is rejected, ignored, or marginalized by the church–representatives of God–they feel rejected by God.

That’s why.

And because the church is a powerful instrument against darkness in the hands of a God who loves the light. The church can and does make a difference.

Everyone who adds a comment will be entered to win a free copy of the book, so please invite others to add their perspectives as well.

Thanks for joining my launch party! And thank you for praying with me that Troubled Minds will inspire Christ followers to spread a little more light in the world.

27 Comments
  1. Trillia says:

    Amy,

    I have been watching and anticipating your book with much interest. The topic is near and dear to my heart as someone who has watched mental illness take a life of a woman I loved deeply. It is tragic to see and yet feel so helpless. I want to be better equipped. I want to know how to love and care for those who are struggling in their minds. Thank you for taking time to explore these topics. And don’t enter me in the book giveaway. I couldn’t wait, I already own one!

  2. Kevin Miller says:

    I used to view serving people with mental illness as something the church could do for ‘them’–those poor, needy folks. But after suffering from panic attacks and needing to be on medication for them, I now view serving people with mental illness as something the church must do for ‘us.’ We’ve got to pastor and teach the many people in every church and on every church staff who wrestle with symptoms they don’t understand and can’t always control. It is here that the love of Jesus stands out, as something so much deeper and richer than mere case management. The mentally ill lead us into a deeper understanding of Jesus’ patient love for each of us. I see the publication of Amy Simpson’s book as a prophetic moment.
    –Kevin Miller
    Associate Rector, Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, IL

  3. Amy, I’m so grateful to you and your family for being willing to share your story?and for your astute insights on the challenges that people who live with mental illness face in our culture. There are so many possibilities for healing and change, and your important book beautifully illuminates these. Thank you for the work you are doing, and for encouraging us all to enter into compassionate community.

  4. Angie Ward says:

    Amy, as we’ve discussed, this type of book is long overdue. I always felt like my church spiritualized “away” the mental health issues in our congregation: from exalting my mother (who used the “right” spiritual language even though hurting others through her borderline personality disorder), to issuing “just trust God” or “there must be sin in your life” responses to people with depression, doubts, or anxiety. I am thankful for your courage to write about your experience and to shed light on the issue of mental illness and how the church can and should (and should not!) respond.

  5. Adrian Warnock says:

    This is a fantastic book. Not everyone can be as open with their personal stories as you have been. As a psychiatrist and involved in church leadership I think this is an excellent contribution. I really enjoyed reading it. Congratulations abd thanks for writing this! Here’s my review: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2013/05/growing-up-with-a-mother-who-was-a-pastors-wife-with-schizophrenia/

  6. Elwin Mehlbrech says:

    I am so grateful God directed me to your website and ultimately this book. I too have been anticipating the book and already purchased it but would gladly give it to someone I know that needs to read it. I am the BPD guy and have a very vested interest in this topic because I have experienced firsthand the effect the ?church? and others? (even those close to us) can have on someone with a metal illness. I thank God I have been able to stand back and get my head and hands around the illness I have and in my experience, there are very few churches equipped to handle folks with mental illness ? the silent unaccepted medical challenge. It is only because of God that I am able to function on an acceptable level most of the time. It is His strength and healing that allows me to keep moving forward and actually come along side others that are challenged and help them for a season. Before this book, ?Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church?s Mission?, I felt a call by the Holy Spirit to write something on Borderline Personality Disorder from a Christian perspective because there is very little printed on the subject. I asked Amy for direction and I am slowly moving in that direction and if the project only benefits me then thank God because I will be a little better equipped to help others.
    I would also be interested in finding out a bulk purchase price as I would like to give this book to others in need of a great read on the topic.
    Elwin Mehlbrech

    • Amy says:

      Thanks for your comment, Elwin. I’m glad to hear you’re making some progress on your writing idea. I don’t have information about bulk purchases, but you could contact the publisher (InterVarsity Press) to ask them about that: 800-843-9487.

  7. Ashley Moore says:

    Amy,

    I’m so excited to see your book published! I think you are so brave, and so knowledgeable about this topic. I can’t wait to see all of the ways that God is going to use this book, and your experiences, to change the Church. Thanks for being willing to cover such an important topic in such a proactive way.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks, Ashley. My mom deserves a lot of the bravery credit. She’s generously and graciously allowed me to share some of her story in the name of helping the church and ministering to other people. She’s much braver than I am.

  8. Amy,

    I believe your book is urgently needed because the church’s response to mental illness has far-reaching, often harmful effects. As churches fail to minister to people with mental illness, they can make their conditions worse. I know people who avoid getting medical treatment and simply pray harder for healing at the advice of their pastors. It’s so difficult for their loved ones to see them continue to suffer, and the church’s unhealthy approach to mental illness causes them to resent the Christian community and grow farther from God. I pray that your book would help generate wise, caring responses from churches, ministries, and all of us.

    Thank you for writing it!

    Kate

  9. Lesa Engelthaler says:

    Amy, thanks for deciding to tell your story so others will do the same. I long for the Church world-wide (as well as my own local congregation) to be real, to address real people with real issues. And then to love well. Your book will make this conversation easier. Grateful, Lesa

  10. As a pastor, I walk with individuals, families, small groups, and the church at large in living and struggling with mental illness. I recently posted “On Depression and Suicide: Lord, Have Mercy” on my blog and received a number of comments that indicate the breadth and depth of mental health issues. I really look forward to reading your book!

  11. Samantha Sayer says:

    I look forward to reading this book. We are asking questions in our Church at the moment – how can we validate and serve those who struggle with poor mental health when so often the vibe of our services is ‘up’. I have bipolar disorder and find Church so hard when I am depressed. Thanks for sharing and spreading hope.

  12. Adrian Warnock says:

    Samantha, have you read the psalms much? There is a lot of depression in them for sure. Depending on how bad your depression gets, it can be possible sometimes to make a choice to praise God even in the middle of your sorrow. Not easy, but possible. Obviously when depression is at its most severe then doing anything let alone going to church becomes way too much effort for most. But even then, prayer AND medicine is the best combination I am sure. Do you have people you can share your struggles with at your church? You don’t need many, just one or two trusted friends and/or pastors.

  13. Lola2four says:

    The church is supposed to reflect Jesus to those who are lost (non-believers) and to our brothers and sister in the Lord. We’re salt and light. So, it only seems right that in being salt or light that we imitate Jesus. He had deep compassion on the hurting and marginalized people that he interacted with. Sad but true is that the things we don’t understand are the things we avoid. So, often the church avoids dealing with mental illness. But, it would seem that the church could lead the way to reach out to those who are suffering personally and to their families by educating themselves. It takes time, effort, and maybe even some money. It takes sacrifice and for while, the church will be out of its comfort zone. But, even awkward attempts done in love and with the spirit of care can be so welcome to the hurting. Maybe if the church would lead the way in taking the stigma away from mental illness, then a LOT more silent sufferers would come forth and receive some needed care and love. May it be so.

  14. Leanne says:

    Amy… I so appreciate your commitment to helping us all understand mental illness that much better. I have to admit my knowledge on the topic was slim, but through our talks I have learned so much. I now approach situations and people differently and have a more accurate view. I applaud your transparency in order to make a difference!

  15. Trevor says:

    This book stands as a blessing to anyone who chooses to read it. For the afflicted, hope. For the church, a clear calling. For family members walking with someone with mental illness, a blueprint. It’s depth of vulnerable dislosure and its theological applications have and will bring healing and guidance to all that this book touches. Thank you for your courage, insight and passion. Well done!

  16. Sarah says:

    I am very thankful that I randomly came across your writing from an article in relevant magazine. And so grateful to the book you have written. My family is no stranger to mental illness and I now have a disabled father who suffers from schizo affective disorder and a mother who has suffered from bipolar disorder my whole life. Your personal story at times seems like you are writing about my own life. That in it of itself is validating to the fact that I and many many others are not alone. But I think the biggest reason this book is necessary is that this is the type of book I have been looking for in all my years of balancing caregiving to my parents and my faith. There are so many scientific and factual books out there that are educational but often lacking in hope. Then there is the empty shelf in the Christian section right next to the “suck it up, put on a happy face and pretend you are ok because that is Christian” section. I appreciate that you have both hope and life in this book, paired with your personal story and factual substance. Anyways, your story has helped me come around to the idea that maybe I can be more open and let other people in on my life too.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks for your encouraging words, Sarah. I hope that as you open up to safe people, you’ll experience an increasing sense of healing and God’s tender love for you, as I have.

  17. Kate says:

    Amy your book and your outlook is so refreshingly honest and understanding with balance between those who are directly affected by mental illnesses and those who don’t realize that it is all around and in us to varying degrees. Reading all of your recent writings on the topic has helped me fit the questions that I so often don’t want to consider into a biblical perspective on the pain of this fallen world of which we are both a product and a driving force. Thank you for your consistent openness and honesty.

  18. Beth says:

    I’ve just come across this book but glad I have! I’ve realised, from my boyfriends experience of mental illness and being part of a church, that things like mental health and addiction and the church don’t always go together as they should! He’s been told that he doesn’t have mental health problems (something the local mental health trust seemed to disagree with by offering one to one therapy sessions rather than the usual cognitive behavioural therapy) and most of the advice on his addiction has been “you need to stop” and then getting annoyed at him when he hasn’t! I believe because of what he’s been and is going through he has a lot more to give to the church than people give him credit for!

  19. Dana Dillon says:

    Families who struggle through a loved one’s mental illness need to know that they are not alone. That’s why we need more family members to tell their stories and why we need churches to better understand the burden these families carry and the help they need.

  20. Dee says:

    Dear Amy,
    Thank you for the boldness to write and speak out on this somewhat ignored issue within Th Body. In my prayr and hearing through the Word of God and life experiences, I have been encouraged to ask tat we follow the calll of freeing the oppressed nd being hands and feet of Christ in protecting, teaching an nurturing people under mental attack or oppression. We are certainly falling down in ‘giving water’ and, even more than that, being willing to address through discipleship of these precious souls.
    There are several ’causes’ for their illnesses that we also must not ignore. Whether contaminated food or water, vaccines, long term abuse, emotional and/or psychological abuse a turnin happens in the mind and chemical imbalance occurs. I have a close friend who was a very healthy boy and young man but the constant psychological, verbal, physical abuse, oppression and entrapment brought on a chemical imbalance. He was then forced back into this situation being medicated to be submissive to it. The bottom line is The Body must stand up and follow the call. There were people who new this situation within the church but were too busy, didn’t want to be th one to be involved an troubled. He now at 37yrs old is still in the abuse and wen from being ‘depressed” to “skitzo” and on 17 medications..terrible and sad! He has a wonderful heart and if able to break free would most assuredly have a much freer and productive life with much joy! H has a heart of gold and is ABLE given the tools and freedom. I know this because I led him in a singles ministry for 3 1/2 yrs. He was th most faithful member and used of the Holy Spirit. Recently (a yr ago) he decided to write a book about his life. If I weren’t flat broke and jobless I would help him with it. I have offered him other help but ‘the church’ will not get involved to free him. Please add him to your prayers..and hank you for writing the book..I hope I get a chance to read it and share it with him(Billy).
    God Bless the work of your hands!

  21. Amy!
    I’m just giddy to know that this book/resource exists. As a pastor I’ve been in the hard position of wanting to help but not always understanding how. As a person, we have personal friends and family members with long, hard journeys and it is just gut-wrenching at times. To hear you echo God’s marvelous love for all of his people and at the same time offer your wisdom is just great. I’ve already snagged two copies of this book and am passing it along every chance I get. Grateful for your words and eager to see what God does with them!

  22. Siobhan says:

    Thank you so much for writing this book – we look forward to reading it. It was rather overwhelming a few years ago when our son had his first manic-psychotic episode and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness has been a wonderful resource (we encourage anyone with a loved one to take a NAMI Family-to-Family course). We also found ourselves very much wanting to talk and pray with other believers who were walking this journey. An internet search for resources and an on-line support group for believers who have family members with mental illness turned up nothing. Our son has now been hospitalized several times, every time believing God is giving him dramatic special revelations. Now, because of confusion and a sense of being betrayed by God, he’s left his church and fellowship. And as someone who has always “lived in his mind” (he’s a writer), he finds it frightening that his mind can betray him in such terrible ways. We knew practically nothing about mental illness before our son’s diagnosis, but as we shared what we were going through, we were astounded by the significant number of people (including many Christians) who have family members with MI. Sadly, we know of no churches that address this family challenge and the media seem to only talk about MI when there has been a shooting tragedy. Thank you again, Amy for writing and speaking about mental illness. The Church needs to be educated about the various types of MI so families can receive the comfort and spiritual support they so desperately need when dealing with these difficult diagnoses. People call and drop off meals when a family in their church is dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Families dealing with acute mental illness need the same kinds of support during a crisis as well as ongoing prayer and love between episodes.

© 2013 Amy Simpson.