Monday, December 17, 2012

Resources for Mental Health Issues

A good friend emailed me over the weekend asking for resources on a Christian response to mental health issues. I figured that more people than just this one are asking this question. Therefore, I thought it might be wise to compile a list of resources for mental health issues.

There are many different views of Christian counseling and mental health issues. Dr. Eric Johnson has edited a very helpful book called Five Views of Psychology and Christianity. It can be a little technical at times but it might be a helpful place to start. My particular view will be reflected in the books that I have suggested. My theology and philosophy of counseling/mental health issues is very similar to that proposed by CCEF.

A resource list like this could be vast. (For a really short list skip to the bottom). I decided to organize it by asking one central question: How deep do you want to go?  (Click on the links to buy the book)

Introductory: I’m just curious or I need quick help

The best introductory book on depression is David Murray’s Christians Get Depressed Too. My review is here.

Another book that might fit in the next section as well is Redemption by Mike Wilkerson. This deals with a vast amount of issues related to mental health (including things like abuse and addiction). My review is here.

If you want an introductory book on various mental health issues that gives an answer to whether it’s a biological condition or something else there are none better than Ed Welch’s book Blame it On the Brain.

For those dealing with sexual abuse a good resource is Dan Allender’s Wounded Heart (though I wouldn’t agree with quite everything in there). Another solid resource is Rid of My Disgrace.

Often mental health issues are the result of not dealing with the past. Steve Viars has a great book for this: Putting Your Past in It’s Place. I have also found great help from Kerry Skinner’s book The Joy of Repentance (he has a couple other books too that might be of help after you read his book on repentance).

What if you can only get one book? If you are depressed and need help get Murray’s. For anything else either Wilkerson’s Redemption or Welch’s book on the brain.

Practice: I want to help

It’s a lengthy book but one of the best books for thinking through day to day counseling (that ought to happen with every member ministry) is Paul Tripp’s book Instruments in the Redeemers Hands. I hand this to everyone that says, “I want to help people”.

Another very helpful little book is the one written by William Cutrer: The Church Leader’s Handbook. This will book has a little bit of everything.

If you want to help people with mental health issues you need to consider the works of David Powlison as well. Seeing with New Eyes and Speaking Truth in Love.

Though I believe he at times overstates his case you can find great help from the work of Jay Adams.

Ed Welch has also written a decent amount of books that will help with specific issues. He has dealt with depression, addictions, fear (my review here), codependency, and shame (my review here).

If you can only get one: get Instruments in the Redeemers Hands.

Theology: I want to go deep in thinking through mental health issues

If you really want to study counseling and mental health Eric Johnson has written a massive book on the Foundations of Soul Care.

Again, I think he overstates his case at times but Jay Adams’ book Competent to Counsel is one that you have to read through if you are going to consider Christian counseling and understanding mental health issues.

I haven’t read this one yet but I think Heath Lambert’s book The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams is one that needs to be considered as well.


These are only a few of the resources available. Honestly, it seems that at present we are doing decent with having books at a macro level of mental health issues. What we are not yet thriving in is having micro level books on specific issues like Asperger’s Syndrome. Right now secular counseling seems to be leading the way on some of these issues and that scares me. So, I would say if you really want to understand mental health issues and biblical counseling pick up a few of these resources and get a healthy big picture theology of Christian counseling. Then pick up books on the specifics once it becomes necessary or they become available.

This list is overwhelming. So read this article:

Counseling and the Authority of Christ by Russell Moore

Then buy these three books that will give you a start:

1. Paul Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemers Hands

2. Ed Welch, Blame it on the Brain

3. Mike Wilkerson, Redemption

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