Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission

Troubled Minds is now available! I’m thrilled to herald its release with this video, compliments of my publisher, InterVarsity Press.

The video gives a small taste of what the book offers: my family’s story, information about mental illness, and a challenge to the church.

This video is meant to be shared, so please pass it along to anyone who might be interested in the book or simply encouraged to know they’re not alone in their experience with mental illness. There is hope, and I pray that it will spread with the release of this book.

13 Comments
  1. Elwin Mehlbrech says:

    I just purchased your new book “Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church?s Mission” and I cannot wait to read it.
    From the BPD guy,
    Elwin

  2. Amy says:

    Amy – Love that you address long-suffering hope. There have been times in my own story where I too have given up hope only to be awed by God’s reminder that He is still at work.

  3. irene says:

    Amy, i just bought your book. i have been diagnosed with bpolar 1 and have a long history of taching in Christian schools, homeschooling, and teaching in Sunday School. My episodes have been coming more frequently and i have been removed from serving in the church using my gift of teaching. as more people find out about my bipolar i see the stigma growing. There are times now where it seems that some people have placed me as a 2nd class Christian. I have much knowledge on Church history, women of great faith in the past and on te creation vs evolution issues. One of he triggers to me decompensating or having an episode is that i am not able to serve. i am trying medications but i have either gotten serious side effects or find myself weeping. the pain behind not being able to currently serve, the sense that some people now view me different can be overwhelming. I have not caused any havoci n the church with my sickness and i have been very careful about placing myself in a situatin at the church that would trigger an episode. i am lookiing forward to your book and am hoping to find some answers. i desperately desire to serve my LORD in a manner in which He has designed me to be.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks so much for sharing about your experience, Irene. I hear the pain behind what you write, and I hope you will be able to find a way to use your gifts in ministry, as God intended. I hope my book will not only encourage you, but also help churches see mental illness differently and realize that people with mental-health-related diagnoses are not hopeless or purposeless in God’s family. You might be encouraged by this little Q&A, especially my answer to the third question: http://blog.todayschristianwoman.com/2013/05/mental_illness_and_the_church.html.

  4. Amy, I just started your book and am already learning so much – about myself and the church. I grew up with a mother with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (never diagnosed or treated but from books I’ve read she is high on the spectrum.) I have also been dealing with my own mental illness – depression, anxiety, possible bipolar, possible avoidant personality disorder. I am also talking with my pastor on how he and the church can help during this difficult time in my life. I am going to recommend your book to him (as well as some other pastors I know) Thank you for writing this. I’m only about 75 pages in but it is already proving so informative and helpful to me.

  5. Donna Platt says:

    Hi Amy, My church hosted you in a speaking engagement so I’m hoping you might be able to help (I ordered your book just now but not sure if my question will be answered). My husband is in pastoral care at a large church and I’m a professional counselor with limited experience in schizophrenia. One of our church attendees is a middle-aged woman who is clearly delusional and regularly requests meetings with the pastors. My husband is new to ministry and has met with her twice. Both times she speaks at great length in a very circular and tangential way and refuses to talk about anything spiritual. (She has met with all the other pastors and it seems now they’re now trying to avoid her.) My husband wants to do the right thing but feels totally overwhelmed and is out of his area of expertise. She apparently isn’t taking her meds and isn’t interested in our Fresh Hope group. She attended once and was extremely disruptive, accusing another member of being suicidal. She lives with her ex-husband but speaks very disparagingly about him. Any suggestions? Would it be within our ethical boundaries to call her husband for his assistance and insight?

    • Amy says:

      Donna, the ethics of the situation will depend on the nature of your husband’s relationship with this church attendee. Specifically, was he providing counseling, or were these more informal conversations? I’m not an expert on ethics in pastoral counseling, but there are places you can go to find guidelines. Here are a couple of examples:

      http://markbeaird.org/wmlib/pdf/articles/ethical_issues_in_pastoral_counseling.pdf
      http://ethics.iit.edu/ecodes/?q=node/5104
      http://www.professionalchaplains.org/files/professional_standards/common_standards/common_code_ethics.pdf

      That said, while it’s possible that it would be inappropriate for him to call the ex-husband to talk about the woman, that doesn’t mean it would be inappropriate to call and talk to the man (or even request to meet with him) to talk about him and his own experiences (letting him bring up his ex-wife if he wants to and without disclosing anything she has shared) and try to address any needs that he has.

      My gut suggests that the ex-husband is not going to have much assistance to offer. Of course, I don’t know him, but knowing their living situation tells me there’s a fair amount of unhealthy coping (maybe denial, maybe codependency) going on. Maybe exhaustion and even despair. He may need a lot of support and help. He probably could offer some insights, but he probably can’t get her to take medication or go to a support group either (and may not want to). But supporting him and providing him with a reality check may be an important way to help address systemic issues that keep her from acknowledging and addressing her need for help. It’s awesome that you have a Fresh Hope group. Making contact with the ex-husband may provide a doorway for inviting him to the group and seeing what that will offer him. He may even be able to convince her to come if he’s going.

      It may be worth investing in some time with a psychologist or psychiatrist who is willing to consult with your husband and give some insights and advice. While keeping her identity confidential, he could discuss behaviors he sees and request some suggestions for ways the church can help, draw boundaries, and respond. Not asking for support to do the mental health professional’s job, but to address this woman constructively within the sphere of the church’s role and your husband’s qualifications.

      It’s also OK to draw boundaries with the woman. Confronting her delusions isn’t likely to do a lot of good, but it’s OK to do things like limiting the time frame for her conversations with pastors, telling her when her behavior is unacceptable, and maybe even asking her to stick with any treatment plans she has received from doctors in the past (and to see a mental health professional now).

      I hope that helps! God bless you and your husband for wanting to help rather than simply turning away.

© 2013 Amy Simpson.