Mental Health Awareness

This week is Mental Health Awareness week (May 10th – 16th 2021). Mental health is a very relevant topic for people to be thinking about, especially after the year we’ve had and all of the challenges that COVID has thrown our way. But, simply raising awareness of mental health isn’t really enough. People need to be more informed about mental health and be more equipped to understand those who suffer from poor mental health.

I thought I’d compile a list of some helpful resources to equip Christian to understand depression a bit more. Why depression? Because that’s where my experience is. I went through a dark season of depression before going into ministry that resulted in me attempted to take my own life three times. But, whilst I have some experience of depression, not everyone’s depression is the same. Therefore, here are a number of resources that I’ve found helpful over the years. I’ve split them into some rough categories that will hopefully help you sift through what might be helpful for you or other that you know. Whilst books are helpful, it is important to remember that not everyone’s depression will look the same or have the same cause. Book recommendation are kind of subjective, what I don’t find helpful might be great for someone else, bear that in mind. These recommendations are in no particular order. My hope is that this list will give you a good signpost in the right direction…

Short introductions

Dealing with Depression by Sarah Collins & Jayne Haynes
Helpful, but very brief, introduction combined with short stories from Christians with depression.

Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life (Practical wisdom from Richard Baxter) – Audiobook.
I really enjoyed reading this one. It has helpful introductions from Packer and Lundy and the pastoral insights from Baxter.

Why Am I Feeling Like This? by David Murray
This book is written for teenagers to think through their own anxiety and depression.

Why Is My Teenager Feeling Like This?
Murray also wrote a book for the parents to read alongside with the teens. This book will help equip you for good and healthy conversations about depression and anxiety with teenagers.

Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
This is a very helpful books that was originally a number of sermons by Lloyd-Jones exploring certain passages of the Bible concerning depression, with a particular focus on the spiritual side of it.

Testimonies and helpful insights

The Pastor with a Thorn in His Side edited by Stephen Kneale
This is a book of 7 pastors who speak about their experience of depression. Cards on the table, you’ll find my story in there too, so this is a bit of a cheeky plug. But I do think it will be helpful.

When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend by Mark Meynell
Mark opens up about his life in ministry and the effects that depression has for him. I think this is one of the most helpful books on depression weaved around someone’s story.

Down, Not Out by Chris Cippollone
Chris tells his own story with helpful advice both for the sufferer and those who love someone with depression

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine
Personally, I didn’t find this one very helpful, but many others have so it’s worth checking out.

Encouragement for the Depressed by Charles Spurgeon and Randy Alcorn
This is a helpful book from Spurgeon, a man who knew the pain of depression. Read his experience and his pastoral heart for his listeners.

Learning to Breathe by Rachael Newham
This was a helpful read from a women who has studied mental health and written a lot of material on it over the years.

Why Do I Feel Like This? by Rachel Lane
This is written for young teens to help them think through depression. Lane opens up about her own experience whilst helping the reader think through some tough questions. This is written with both the Christian and the non-Christian in mind.

Slightly more medical

When Life Goes Dark by Richard Winter
This one is slightly dates now, but it is still a very helpful book to get your hands on.

I’m Not Supposed to Feel Like This by Paul Richards
Even older than the previous one, but still very helpful. This one helpfully tackles some of the misconceptions around faith and depression.

Depression by Ed Welch
This one might not be super medical, but Welch does go into some of the causes and treatments of depression. This book is designed to be read by both the sufferer and those caring for the depressed. I have found this book very helpful in recent years.

Blame It On The Brain by Ed Welch
This one goes beyond just depression and helps you think about mental health more generally.

Tackling Mental Illness by Alan Thomas
Thomas does a great job in this book at looking at mental health from both a medical and a biblical perspective. It’s a bit more of a study than a casual read, but well worth it.

Other helpful resources

Grieving a Suicide by Al Hsu
Having lost a close friend to suicide, this book broke my heart, but helped in the process. I highly recommend it.

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop
Another book that isn’t specifically about depression, but speaks of principles and truths that can be a source of encouragement and help to the depressed.

For All Who Grieve by Colin Smith
This title is more to do with loss and grief, but it is a helpful read that can encourage those who mourn.

There are plenty more books that I could recommend, some on depression and other more generally on mental health. But I hope that this short list gives you at least a few books that will start your journey of understanding depression and not just talking about it.

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