Can Churches Separate Mental Illness and Shame?

“If you don’t fight stigma in your own family, the rest of society and the church aren’t going to fight stigma either,” said Amy Simpson, author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission. The message she heard from her community and church growing up was that her mother (who has schizophrenia) was to be feared and that she too was “infected,” Simpson said.

One-fourth of Americans will suffer a mental illness this year, several speakers said. Sixty-five percent come to church first for help with their struggles, said Vann.

However, one-third of Americans and roughly half of evangelical, fundamentalist, and born-again Christians say that with prayer and Bible study alone, sufferers can overcome serious mental illness, a September 2013 LifeWay Research survey found.

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