Tackling Mental Illness Together

Tackling Mental Illness Together

A Biblical And Practical Approach

Biblical insights with practical steps for caring for anyone suffering with mental illness

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· How do we deal wisely, intelligently and compassionately with those who suffer from mental illness?
· Can we really make a difference if we aren’t professionals?
· Is it possible to discern between bad behaviour due to illness and that caused by sin?

Discover how your church can become a safe, encouraging and healing place.

‘The next-best thing to spending a week shadowing Professor Thomas.’ Sinclair Ferguson

‘Rational, readable and relevant, this book confirms that all involved in pastoral work can help tackle mental illness.’ Andrew Fergusson

‘The go-to resource for those who want to know more: the wisdom of reliable clinical experience laced with academic rigour and good common sense, all grounded in God’s word. I recommend it highly.’ Glynn Harrison

‘Empowers us all to play our part.’ Debbie Hawker

‘An accessible, practical, sensible and biblically grounded resource to help us navigate this challenging terrain.’ Sharon James

‘Presented in a way that will instil confidence that we can work with mental health professionals.’ Nick Pollard

‘Alan Thomas has shared his own important insights in what will become a standard book on the subject, accessible and wise.’ Geoff Thomas

Product details


Author Alan Thomas
ISBN 9781783595594
Format Paperback
First published November 2017
Dimensions 138mm x 216mm x 17mm
Language English
Pages 232
Publisher SPCK Publishing

Dr Andrew Fergusson

The Chair of IVP Publishing Board

Whether as a professional, carer, family member or perhaps a patient, every one of us will have been affected by mental illness. Christians may face further distress: is this behaviour sin or is it sickness? From a biblical and medical framework, and using case examples, consultant psychiatrist Alan Thomas makes everything clear. Rational, readable and relevant, this book confirms that all involved in Christian ministry and pastoral work can help tackle mental illness.

Professor Glynn Harrison

Christian psychiatrist and academic

Attitudes to mental illness today are still disfigured by too much fear and too little understanding, and Alan Thomas has written the go-to resource for those who want to know more about this crucial area. Firmly rooted in sound scholarship, it is nevertheless hugely accessible to its target readership - pastors, clergy and all those wanting to understand more about their own struggles or those of a family member. Here they will find the wisdom of reliable clinical experience laced with academic rigour and good common sense, all grounded in the Word of God. I recommend it highly.

Dr Debbie Hawker

Clinical Psychologist

This easy-to-read book improves our understanding of common mental health problems and their treatments. Using case studies and biblical teaching, it also empowers us all to play our part in helping, by reminding us that the little things (like listening, warmth and kindness) can help improved the mental health of those we encounter.

Independent reviews
Christian Bookshop Ossett

This is a most welcome book on a hot topic, especially coming as it does from a respected authority on the subject currently working in the UK National Health Service, Alan Thomas, who is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Newcastle University.
A recurring theme in the book is reflected in its title - that 'people with minimal training can provide real therapeutic benefit to the mentally ill'. Professor Thomas is concerned that DSM-5, the psychiatrist's diagnostic manual, has widened the definition of mental illness. Now, it seems, the behaviour is the disorder. More people are thus brought within the realm of treatment by the health profession, and this can send a discouraging and disempowering signal to ministers and churches - "this is a job for professionals." The truth is that both have complementary roles, and that wise, experienced, empathetic, 'ordinary' christians with good listening skills, who know the sufferer, can provide vital support to those with mental illnesses.
The subtitle of the book is 'A Biblical and Practical Approach', and hence begins with emphasizing the body-and-soul nature of man (mental illness is not just "all in the mind"), and the implications of the Fall on what we were made for. Professor Thomas roundly criticizes Freud's view of the unconscious mind, and provides a very clear assessment of the issue of personal responsibility in relation to mental illness ("Is it sickness or sin?"). He fascinatingly observes the effect of culture upon the manifestation of stress, eg. shell shock, before coming on to an overview of treatments - drugs, ECT, psychological approaches, and their effectiveness across the whole spectrum of mental illness. This is an informative guide and provides a good number of illustrative case studies drawn from many years of clinical practice.
Mental illness is difficult territory, but this book impresses as a go-to resource - not a slick read by any means, but giving an all-too-rare Christian perspective on a big subject.

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Tackling Mental Illness Together | Alan Thomas | £9.99 £8.49