Here’s One of the Best Things Churches Can Do for People with Mental Illness

Here’s One of the Best Things Churches Can Do for People with Mental Illness


Amy Simpson, M.B.A.


We are thrilled to announce that Amy Simpson will be joining us at the upcoming Church and Mental Health Summit in Chicago, IL, held on November 3-5, 2016. She will be doing a preconference workshop entitled, “Mental Illness: How Churches Can Help“. Sign up today at to hear Amy speak!


“Please don’t tell anyone,” she pleaded. “They won’t let me serve anymore.”

I could tell that this woman, who had just “confessed” to me that she faced a serious struggle with depression, was regretting her disclosure. When she’d realized I was a safe person to talk with, she had told me about her mental health problem. Now she was begging me to keep my mouth shut about it because she was pretty sure her church’s pastoral staff was not so safe.

The thing that scared her was not that she would be ostracized or publicly humiliated or condemned. It was that she would have her ministry position taken away. And that role was one of the things that was keeping her alive.

Every week she knew people would be counting on her to be prepared for her Sunday morning responsibilities. And every Sunday, even on those weeks when getting out of bed required an excruciating act of determination, she knew that it would matter to people if she didn’t show up at church. She loved the people she led, and she felt God’s pleasure as she used her gifts in service to him. The weekly rhythm of responsibility, service, and a job well done was a critical piece of what kept her from giving in to the darkness that pulled at her every day.

I did keep my mouth shut—I would have done that anyway. But I wanted to tell her not to worry, that it would be good for her to talk to her pastor about her struggle, that her church would love and support her. I couldn’t say that with confidence, though. She was sure that if her leaders knew about her depression, she would be told to step down. And she may have been right.

After all, I have heard countless stories of exactly that. From Bible study leaders to Sunday school teachers to ministry coordinators to senior pastors, people have been asked to step away from ministry because they face mental health challenges.

I love what Pastor Chris Miller said about the battles he and his wife have fought with anxiety and bipolar II disorder: “In our 10 years of marriage, there have been some long, difficult nights. But if you were to question me or my wife or our ability to lead based on those nights, you would be an idiot. Those nights didn’t break us, they made us.”

Indeed. The people in your church who live with emotional pain and mental strain are not weaker than the rest of the congregation; they are stronger for the battles they have won. And your church needs them in ministry.

Read the rest of Amy’s article on her blog by clicking here!



Amy Simpson, M.B.A. is an editor at Christianity Today, leading publishing efforts for She also serves as senior editor for Leadership Journal and is the author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission.