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Mental Illness and the Church

Annotated Bibliography


AGING AND GOD: SPIRITUAL PATHWAYS TO MENTAL HEALTH IN MIDLIFE AND LATER YEARS. By Harold G. Koenig, M.D. (1994). Haworth Pastoral Press, 10 Alice Street, Binghampton, NY 13904; hardback and paperback copies available; 554 pages.

A book with appeal for middle-aged and older adults and their families, as well as mental health professionals, chaplains and other clergy. It promotes understanding of the spiritual needs of older adults, and the impact religion can have on facilitating mental health and successful aging. It covers major psychological problems older adults face, and offers discussion on how religion can be used to help alleviate these problems.


AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ON MINISTRY AND PROLONGED MENTAL ILLNESS. By Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen, H. Newton Malony and Jennifer Shifrin. (1988). Pathways to Promise, 5400 Arsenal Street, St. Louis, MO 63139; paperback, nine pages.

Annotated listing of articles, booklets, books and videotapes. Earliest publication listed in from 1978; most citations are from mid and late 1980s. Includes key references from various faith communities.

APPROPRIATE LANGUAGE IN DISCUSSING MENTAL ILLNESS. By Charlotte Hawkins-Shepard, Ph.D. (1995). Health and Welfare Ministries Program of the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, Room 330, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115; one page, double-sided. Available on this web site at

Discusses the importance of using "People First Language" when speaking or writing about mental illness. Urges the Church community to help stamp out the use of demeaning terms such as "crazy," or "nut,". Reviews types of mental illness and cautions against global use of specific terms that refer to only one disorder, but rather that people use such terms only when sure they are correct, both medically and legally. Writes in the context of the United Methodist 1992 General Conference Resolution related to mental illness.

THE CHURCH AND SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS. A topical issue of the Presbyterian journal "Church and Society," Vol. 81 (3). (1991). Social Justice and Peacemaking Unit, Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville KY 40202; 136 pages.

Among articles in this journal are "Witnessing: Diary of Depression,"by a Presbyterian minister who spent several months as a patient in a psychiatric hospital, "When the Devil Deserts You," by Ed Cooper, a person with mental illness, "Ministering -- the Meaning of Hope in the Task of Shepherding," by Roy Fairchild, a Presbyterian minister and Professor, San Francisco Theological Seminary, "In Sickness and In Health - When a Partner is Mentally Ill," by an anonymous author, and "Care in the Congregation," by Larry Martens, President, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary. A resolution of the Presbyterian Church on "The Church and Serious Mental Illness" from the 200th General Assembly in 1988 is reprinted in full, with excerpts from the background paper. The material concludes with resources for congregations.


CLERGY: MENTAL ILLNESSES AWARENESS GUIDE. By the American Psychiatric Association Division of Public Affairs. (1993). American Psychiatric Press, 1400 K Street NW, Suite 1101, Washington DC 20005; (800) 368-5777; 40 pages.

This guide on mental illness was reviewed by clergy and physicians throughout the country. Four sections of useful information follow an introduction and a fact sheet about mental illness. "Ideas for Ministry" has 11 steps a faith community can take to be in ministry with persons who have a mental illness, worship ideas, sermon starters and prayers. "Further Your Understanding" includes material on reaching out to someone with a mental illness, mental illness terms and crisis intervention information for clergy. The "Special Events" section has material on mental illness awareness week, mental health month, national depression screening day and world mental health day. A fourth section is entitled "Mental Illness Awareness Camera-Ready Materials." Local APA contacts, two pages and a half pages of resources and a bibliography make up the rest of the guide's material.


CREATING A CIRCLE OF LEARNING: THE CHURCH AND THE MENTALLY ILL. By Shirley H. Strobel. (1997). NAMI, P.O. Box 753, Waldorf MD 20604.

This is a curriculum designed to sensitize adults in church congregations to people with severe mental illness. Can be used as 12 one-hour lessons or six two-hour lessons. Teaching sessions are designed to build on a Biblical-based theological reflection. The publication includes material on being a friend to a person with mental illness, and model programs from other churches.


DEALING WITH DEPRESSION: FIVE PASTORAL INTERVENTIONS. By Richard Dayringer, Byron Eicher, Myron C. Madden, and John J. O'Hearne. (1995). Haworth Pastoral Press, 10 Alice Street, Binghamton NY 13904; hardback and paperback, 175 pages.

The book offers definitions of depression, characterizations of effective interventions, and a discussion of the counselor's role. Authors include two hospital chaplains, two clinical psychologists and three physicians. Presents strategies clergy can use in identifying and helping persons with depression, and describes techniques, devices and interventions that help improve the mental health of persons with depression.


IF WE CAN LOVE: THE MENNONITE MENTAL HEALTH STORY. By Vernon H. Neufeld, Editor. (1983). Faith and Life Press, 718 Main Street Newton KS 67114; paperback, 340 pages.

This book tells the story of Mennonite involvement in the national and international arena of mental illness and mental health. It is aimed at a general readership of those who work in, or are interested in mental illness. The book is divided into four major sections: "How We Started," "How Our Centers Developed," "What We Learned," and "What Others Say." Chapter 1 provides a brief history of mental illness over the centuries, and how society has slowly gained understanding. Three pages trace the Church's involvement, including Roman Catholic and Protestant efforts, as well as specific work by the Mennonites.


HELPING SOMEONE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS: COMPASSIONATE GUIDE FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS AND CARE GIVERS. By Rosalynn Carter and Susan Golant. (1998). Times Books. (Available through Amazon Books at Hardback, 348 pages.

Useful for clergy, families, social workers, doctors, consumers. Covers descriptions of different mental illnesses, and gives step by step suggestions on what to do after a diagnosis: seeking the best treatment, evaluating health care providers, managing the workplace, financial and legal matters, and more. Additionally, how to cope with the impact on the family, as well as connecting with the right support are discussed. Includes an excellent 20 page list of references.


JUST FOR THIS DAY: MEDITATIONS FOR FAMILIES EXPERIENCING MENTAL ILLNESS. By Project Religious Outreach of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Ohio. (1992). At 979 South High Street, Columbus OH 43206; (614) 444-2646; 124 pages.

A book of writings and drawings by persons with mental illness and family members of persons with mental illness. Sample titles of written pieces are: "Hope," by a mother of a son who has bi-polar disorder, "Acceptance and Serenity," by a mother of a son who has schizo-affective and bi-polar disorder, "Patience," by a daughter of a woman with bi-polar disorder, and "Acceptance," by a person with Schizophrenia.

MENTAL ILLNESS AND THE CONGREGATION OF WORSHIP. (nondated). Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Sedgwick, P.O. Box 2435, Wichita KS 67201.

A double-sided, two-fold brochure, eight panels, total. This material describes seven qualities or traits needed by congregations with regard to mental illness: Friendliness, understanding, respect, honesty and acceptance, sympathy and tolerance, compassion and knowledge, and empathy. These are preceded by quotes from persons with mental illness. Brief sections describe mental illness. Three resources are suggested for further reading.

MINISTRIES ON MENTAL ILLNESS. By the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, 100 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; three pages.

This publication provides the complete text of the General Conference Resolution on mental illness and the church, which was adopted in May 1992. Background information includes a description of what mental illness is, and discusses John Wesley's ministry and the ministry of Christ in relation to the United Methodist Church model for ministry to those with mental illness. The resolution calls upon local churches, districts and annual conferences to support 11 community and congressional programs, upon seminaries to provide technical training and upon the general agencies to take six specific actions of advocacy and support. It calls for building a mental illness network, at the General Board of Church and Society, to coordinate mental illness ministries in the United Methodist Church.


MORE PRAYERS FOR CLIMBING OUT OF A HOLE. (1993). Published by Project S.T.O.P., Fr. Bill Schneider, 16 McLean Street, Freehold NJ 07728;(908) 462-1896; 23 pages.

Written by a person with mental illness, this small book contains 16 prayers for persons with mental illness. Among the titles are: "Prayer for Those on My Unit," "I'm Not Angry, Dammit," "Am I Good, Bad, or Stupid?" and "Any More Surprises." The introduction explains that "all have combined to help the author climb out of the hole and stay out . . .so far."


NEW MODELS FOR MINISTRY: Serious Mental Illness and the Faith Community. By Martha L. Harris, Diane Engster, and Paul B. Dorman. (1989). The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1300 New York Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. 20005; paperback, 69 pages.

This is the report of a survey to determine what faith communities throughout the country have been doing to minister to and with those who have serious mental illness. Chapter 1 discusses the response to those with serious mental illness, and contrasts it with Biblical injunctions toward justice, compassion and hospitality. Chapter 2 reviews relevant literature. Chapter 3 summarizes the survey findings. Chapter 4 provides case studies of faith community responses, such as the Ascension Homes project in Baltimore MD where seven congregations, including the Govans-Boundary Parish of the United Methodist Church, cooperate to developing housing for those with mental disorders.


A PATH THROUGH THE SEA: ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY FROM DEPRESSION TO WHOLENESS. By Lillian V. Grisham. (1993). Wm. B. Eerdsmans Publishing Company, 255 Jefferson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503; 223 pages.

This book presents a first person account of Lillian Grisham's experience with a five year period of depression. She portrays the complexity of severe depression, and the complexity of its healing, giving full credit for the latter to her pastor, her Christian psychiatrist, and her husband, Ray. In his own section of the book, Ray gives an account of his experience with her illness, and offers practical advice for family members and friends who would like to know how to help. The necessity of both psychiatry and spiritual counseling for persons with mental illness is underscored in the book.


PATHWAYS TO PARTNERSHIP: AN AWARENESS AND RESOURCE GUIDE ON MENTAL ILLNESS. By Jennifer Shifrin, Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen and Florence Kraft. (2nd edition, 1990). Pathways to Promise, 5400 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63139; paperback, 26 pages.

Six section booklet. Content in Section I covers myths and realities and definitions relating to mental illness, possible signs and symptoms of mental illness, how to reach out to someone who has a mental illness, and the family and mental illness. Section II has suggestions on how a congregation can respond. Section III contains pastoral resources, sermon starters, hymn suggestions, and denominational statements and resolutions on mental illness. Section IV contains congregational resources. Section V provides education models for the congregation, covering adult education and lessons for children and youth. Section VI is a two page annotated listing of resource and support organizations and a brief bibliography.


PATHWAYS TO UNDERSTANDING: A MANUAL ON MINISTRY AND MENTAL ILLNESS. (Video and manual). (1995). By Jennifer Shifrin. Pathways to Promise, 5400 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63139; 238 pages. Four section booklet. Content in Section I, "The Faith Community and Mental Illness" covers the history of the faith community's response to mental illness, an orientation to mental illness, a theological perspective in ministry with people with mental illness, and pastoral care and mental illness. Section II, "The Person and the Family," has information on such topics as when to counsel vs. when to refer, working with people with mental illness, what to do in a crisis situation, and working with the family. Section III contains 11 narratives illustrating situations a clergy person can face in the congregation and community. (On the video, this is a 60 minute section, and there is a pause between each narrative, allowing individual narratives to stand on their own.) Section IV, "The Community and Its Resources" has six sections, covering such topics as building bridges with and working with mental health systems and providers, sources of information and support, and insurance and legal issues. Among features of the extensive appendix section are mental illness definitions, statements on mental illness by 14 faith groups and a bibliography.


RELIGION AND PREVENTION IN MENTAL HEALTH. By Kenneth I. Pargament. Kenneth Maton and Robert Hess (Editors). (1993).Haworth Pastoral Press, 10 Alice Street, Binghamton NY 13904; hardback and paperback, 333 pages. This book, with its 11 chapters, proves rewarding and encouraging for clergy, prevention professionals, and church members. The editors explain their own 10 commandments for a reciprocal working relationship between religion and mental illness prevention.

RELIGIOUS OUTREACH. Special topical issue of the Journal of the California Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Vol.3(4). (1992). California Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 1111 Howe Avenue, Suite 475, Sacramento CA 95825. This issue of the quarterly publication of the California Alliance for the Mentally Ill looks at the role of religion in the world of mental illness. A total of 21 articles cover topics that include the establishment of the Pathways to Promise organization, the building of a denominational mental illness network, the experiences of several individuals who themselves have mental illness, stories of clergy working in the field of mental health, and stories of families with a member with mental illness. One such article features the writing by United Methodist clergy person Pharis Harvey and the Assistant General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, Jane Hull Harvey, who explain how their mentally ill son's suicide led them to try to find ways for religious communities to be more effective with others with mental illness.


A SOUL UNDER SIEGE: SURVIVING CLERGY DEPRESSION. By C. Welton Gaddy. (1991). Westminster/John Knox Press, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202.

Wayne E. Oates has written an engaging foreword to this book. The author describes his recovery from depression, including a period of hospitalization. Sharing the understandings to which he came in the recovery process, he reflects on how we all are equal in God's eyes.


SOULS ARE MADE OF ENDURANCE: SURVIVING MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE FAMILY. By Steward D. Govig. (1994). Westminster John Knox Press, 100 Witherspoon St., Louisville KY 40206; paperback,111 pages.

Written by a Pacific Lutheran University Professor of Religion, this book is a personal account of a family's struggle with their son's Schizophrenia. The book is divided into three parts: Finding Out, Holding On, and Letting Go. Notes at the end contain the titles of resource books and articles on serious mental illness and the family. Personal anecdotes form the base of the book's material. Govig states in the preface that the stories of personal struggle are not merely illustrations of suffering, but can become vehicles for rebirth and hope. Throughout, one finds the theme of endurance, which Govig characterizes as embracing hardship and tenacity.


A STRANGER IN OUR MIDST: A CONGREGATIONAL STUDY ON PROLONGED MENTAL ILLNESS. By Ruth Fowler. (1987). Pathways to Promise, 5400 Arsenal Street, St.Louis, MO 63139. Paper cover, 148 pages.

This is a study guide, punched for a three ring binder. It is designed to "lead persons through an individualized process of self and community examination, heightened awareness, renewed commitment and practical action" regarding mental illness and religious congregations. Following notes to leaders is material for six study sessions, additional content on three study sessions for congregations, three study sessions for clergy and plans for retreats, videos, guest speakers, presentations, etc. The last and largest section contains readings by such well known writers as Stewart Govig and H. Newton Malony.


STRENGTH FOR HIS PEOPLE: A MINISTRY FOR FAMILIES OF THE MENTALLY ILL. By Pastor Steven Waterhouse. (1994). Westcliff Bible Church, P.O. Box 1521. Amarillo TX 79105; (805) 359-6362; paperback, 136 pages.

Written by the Pastor of Westcliff Bible Church in Amarillo, Texas, this book is a study guide addressing needs of Christian families of those with severe mental illness. Topics discussed include the response of churches to mental illness, the medical basis of Schizophrenia, handling emotional responses in families with persons with mental illness, theology relating to suffering, and the intrinsic human worth of all persons --including those with mental illness. A list of organizations and a 15 page bibliography complete the book. This book is distributed without charge.


THREE BUCKETS OF STUFF. AND MORE PRAYERS FOR CLIMBING OUT OF TOUGHER HOLES. By Fr. Bill Schneider. (Nondated). Project S.T.O.P., Fr. Bill Schneider, 16 McLean Street, Freehold NJ 07728; (908) 462-1896; 28 pages.

A small book of 17 prayers for persons with mental illness. The three page introductory section entitled "Three Buckets of Stuff" carries out the theme of the book's title. Bucket One is portrayed as "truth" (e.g., the "existence of a loving God who has a special love for his people who are made in his image), Bucket Two "has to do with what we do and why we do it . . . doing what faith indicates as the right thing," and Bucket Three has to do with prayer, which "tunes us in and helps us decide what action should be taken." A section entitled "Twelve Biblical Steps to Confidence and Hope" makes up the book's last two pages.

WHO HAS A MENTAL ILLNESS? (Nondated). Pamphlet produced by Pathways to Promise, 5400 Arsenal Street, St. Louis Mo 63139; one fold, four sides, 8 x 7 inches per side.

Available in Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish versions. Contains material on what mental illness is, brief descriptions of affective disorders- depression, and of Schizophrenia, with accompanying case studies. Includes brief listings of readings and resource organizations.


WITH CORDS OF COMPASSION: MINISTRY WITH PERSONS AFFECTED BY SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS. By The Rev. Jeffrey A. Hosmer, Ruth Drescher, & Eric Engel (Editors). (1992). United Mental Health, PHSDS Building 3rd Floor, 1945 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15219-5543.; 29 pages.

As stated in the Foreword, the purpose of this publication "is to provide clergy and religious leaders . . .with a succinct reference to assist your ministry with persons challenged by mental illness." The material covers definitions, symptoms, misconceptions, common medications and treatment, information on legal issues and a brief bibliography. Included in among the articles are "Accepting the Challenge to Care: The Religious Community and the Mentally Ill," and "How a Congregation Can Respond."

See also: Annotated Bibliography-- Persons with Disabilities: Pastoral Care Resources


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