January 3, 2013
Mental Illness: What is the Church’s Role?
In this piece written for Q: Ideas for the Common Good, Amy Simpson tells what it is like to have mental illness in the family and why it’s so important for Christians to become involved in helping people whom the current mental health system often fails. She also provides the historical background of why the system has become broken. Discussions in the wake of the Newtown shooting are drawing renewed attention to mental illness, while unfortunately at the same time sometimes resorting to stereotyping and stigmatization. This can give the impression that mental illness is inevitably associated with violence. Not so. Simpson lists practical ways the church could help. But, she says, “in general, the church tends to handle mental illness in one of three ways: ignore it, treat it exclusively as a spiritual problem, or refer people to professionals and wash our hands of their trouble.” For additional reading, see Jo Hilder’s article about mental illness and gun laws in Australia.