May is Mental Health Awareness Month …
For the occasion, we offer some of the best books we’ve read on mental health and mental illness for Christian readers.
Some of these books take a more theological approach to understanding mental health, or a practical approach to fostering mental health in our churches. Others help us understand the social dynamics that surround mental health, and you also will find several memoirs of mental illness, some of which were written by Christians.
We feature our theology book of the year first, and after that the remaining book are in alphabetical order by the author/editor’s last name….
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Books on Christianity and Mental Health…
12) Companions in the Darkness: Seven Saints Who Struggled with Depression and Doubt
The church’s relationship with depression has been fraught: for centuries, depression was assumed to be evidence of personal sin or even demonic influence. The depressed have often been ostracized or institutionalized. In recent years the conversation has begun to change, and the stigma has lessened―but as anyone who suffers from depression knows, we still have a long way to go. In Companions in the Darkness, Diana Gruver looks back into church history and finds depression in the lives of some of our most beloved saints, including Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. Without trying to diagnose these figures from a distance, Gruver tells their stories in fresh ways, taking from each a particular lesson that can encourage or guide those who suffer today. Drawing on her own experience with depression, Gruver offers a wealth of practical wisdom both for those in the darkness and those who care for them. Not only can these saints teach us valuable lessons about the experience of depression, they can also be a source of hope and empathy for us today. They can be our companions in the darkness.
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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
I would add Toward a Theology of Psychological Disorder by Marcia Webb (Cascade Books, 2017) and Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness by Matthew S. Stanford (IVP, 2017) to this list.