Today is World Mental Health Day, and this week each year is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Week in the United States.
Mental Health Awareness is so important, yet we live in a culture that still has a hard time talking about it. The numbers are staggering:
- More than 10 million adults have an unmet need for mental health treatment.
- In the U.S., 46.4% of adults (that's nearly HALF) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
- An estimated 48 million U.S. adults suffer from anxiety disorders. And this statistic, which broke my heart:
- The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
11 years?! We NEED to start talking about this. It's why Mental Health Awareness Week exists. Fortunately, there have been a ton of great books in recent years that have drawn attention to this need. Whether or not you think you are personally affected by the Mental Health crisis, I 100% recommend reading things that provide some perspective into what is the reality for millions of people around us. Here are a few great books that have influenced my perspective and brought Mental Health Awareness:
Finding Quiet by J.P. Moreland
Finding Quiet is an honest, profound, and hopeful look at the realities of anxiety and depression. Moreland is utterly candid in his account of his own suffering from severe anxiety, and openly admits his struggle to reconcile his faith and mental health.
For Christians who wrestle with wondering if their anxiety or depression is the result of a lack of faith, Moreland cuts through the noise and reminds them that while faith is a critical component of recovery, it doesn’t make you immune from mental illness. I love this book because it delivers a plan of recovery with a well-rounded perspective. Moreland offers up both scientific and psychological insight from his years of studying mental illness as well as Scriptural backing to his points. And he does it all in a very personal way, as a fellow sufferer, rather than from the detached perspective you might get from a professor or psychiatrist.
“If you have anxiety, you are not alone, weird, a spiritual failure, or hopeless.”-Finding Quiet
Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado
You can’t go wrong with Lucado, but Anxious for Nothing is probably one of his most famous books because it has had such a profound impact on readers. Like Moreland in Finding Quiet, Lucado reconciles faith and mental health. He says:
“One would think Christians would be exempt from worry. But we are not. We have been taught that the Christian life is a life of peace, and when we don’t have peace, we assume the problem lies within us. Not only do we feel anxious, but we also feel guilty about our anxiety!”-Anxious for Nothing, pg. 8
Lucado goes on to unpack the truth about what anxiety is and how to overcome it gradually in practical, incremental steps. Reading this book is like having a calm, caring voice speak into you and leave you with a sense of peace you may never have felt. It’s not lofty or abstract, but grounded with real world examples that provide valuable perspective. There’s really no type of person who wouldn’t benefit from this book. Whether you or someone you know is in a season of anxiety brought on by stressful circumstances or facing severe chronic anxiety, Anxious for Nothing is a resource to come back to again and again.
Redwoods and Whales by Phil Joel
From the outside, Phil Joel had everything he ever wanted – a successful career as a musician, a beautiful wife and daughter, a nice house and car. His life was the embodiment of the American Dream. But at 28 years old, he was struck by the realization that his soul longed for a deeper purpose and fulfillment in life.
Redwoods and Whales stemmed out of Joel’s desire to help others life the life they were meant to live. He wants to see others break free from the bondage of whatever is holding them back, whether addiction, depression, or hopelessness. For people who may feel like their existence was a mistake, Joel shares his story of struggling with his purpose and reminds them that nobody in the world is an accident. His conversational tone and humor keep the book lighthearted while maintaining its wise and powerful message of hope.
“Too many people are drifting along with a numb feeling inside that makes them want to hurt themselves in order to feel something. Maybe they even think it would be better to put an end to their lives….Let’s get honest with ourselves, get some truth flowing through our veins and into our heads, and see where it leads us. It’s time to get courageous. It’s time to breathe deep again and take life back. Yes? Yes!”-Redwoods and Whales, pg. 13
The Book of Comforts
This book doesn’t specifically go into mental health. However, its four authors do discuss seasons of depression, anxiety, fear, and grief. Each “comfort” tells a relatable personal story and connects it with a verse of Scripture, both pointing to hope. If you ever feel isolated or like you’re the only one who has gone through what you are experiencing, The Book of Comforts will remind you that you are not alone.
There are also lots of great word art illustrations of quotes and Bible verses throughout the book that are perfect for hanging up where you can see them and be encouraged daily. It's also a great resource for those who want to encourage a friend who is going through a season of anxiety or pain and don't feel like they know the right words to say. What better way to participate in Mental Health Awareness Week than to intentionally encourage the people in your life? One of the biggest things that this book taught me is that recovery is a process, no matter what you are going through – and that’s okay. Give yourself grace and celebrate your own endurance despite setbacks.
While there are tons more great books out there that address mental health awareness and provide encouragement, it’s important to remember that none of them can replace seeing a doctor and getting help. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, addiction, or any other mental health concern, please talk to someone and get professional help.
What other books have you read that bring attention to Mental Health Awareness? Tell us in the comments!
Page Chaser is operated by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the publisher of Finding Quiet, Anxious for Nothing, Redwoods and Whales, and The Book of Comforts.