I recently finished reading a book by Amy Simpson entitled Troubled Minds (Inter Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2013). The extraordinary book addresses a topic that most people do not understand and would rather deny or ignore – mental illness.
Amy Simpson writes with candor, transparency and sensitivity about mental illness and her experience growing up with a schizophrenic mother. She writes with credibility and perspective on this vexing issue. Despite how Simpson and her family have been impacted by her mother’s experience, they have not allowed that shared experience to define themselves or each other.
Many myths and stereotypes have persisted about people who suffer from mental illness. Words like “crazy”, “insane” are commonplace. I think of how people (including myself) have distanced themselves from those experiencing mental illness. Media at all levels have helped to fuel such perceptions and stereotypes, especially after high profile crimes have been committed by persons with a mental health issue.
In reality, most of us have been impacted by mental illness in one or more ways, many suffering privately. My own journey has included professionally serving clients with mental illness. But it has also been a personal journey with depression as a traveling companion.
Amy Simpson’s book is a breath of fresh air to those affected by mental illness. The mystery and misconceptions about mental illness are challenged by Simpson in a compassionate, yet factually accurate manner. She exposes the inadequacy of the mental health system in the United States and the difficulties in navigating it. She is appropriately critical of the evangelical church for its historical and current responses to people with mental health conditions. Yet, she offers hope by documenting actions being taken by several congregations to enlarge their ministry to include people with mental illness.
Troubled Minds is not written as a scholarly book, but Simpson’s scholarship is very evident; it is as well written and accurately documented as any book I have read on the subject. Experts on the subject are generously quoted. In my opinion, the book is a must-read, especially for people with mental illness and their families. Mental health professionals and clergy will also find it to be a compelling read.
I am thankful for the courage of Amy Simpson in writing this book. Purchase a copy. Read it. Then pass it on to a friend, relative or neighbor. Go to www.ivpress.com for more information.