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….
Books on Christianity and Mental Health…
9) Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith
Monica A. Coleman’s great-grandfather asked his two young sons to lift him up and pull out the chair when he hanged himself, and that noose stayed in the family shed for years. The rope was the violent instrument, but it was mental anguish that killed him. Now, in gripping fashion, Coleman examines the ways that the legacies of slavery, war, sharecropping, poverty, and alcoholism mask a family history of mental illness. Those same forces accompanied her into the black religious traditions and Christian ministry. All the while, she wrestled with her own bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Faith is both a spiritual autobiography and a memoir of mental illness. In this powerful book, Monica Coleman shares her life-long dance with trauma, depression, and the threat of death. Citing serendipitous encounters with black intellectuals like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Angela Davis, and Renita Weems, Coleman offers a rare account of how the modulated highs of bipolar II can lead to professional success, while hiding a depression that even her doctors rarely believed. Only as she was able to face her illness was she able to live faithfully with bipolar. And in the process, she discovered a new and liberating vision of God.
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.