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When it comes to ministry related to mental health concerns,
prayer and Scripture are not enough.
Beginning with the biblical motif of going to the village well for the waters that sustain life and exploring the communal significance of that well, professor and clinical psychologist Jessica Young Brown calls on the Black Church to rally its historic resilience and creativity to acknowledge and engage those in its pews who are struggling with mental health concerns. Using the acronym of SPACE, the author discusses:
Silencing the Stigma … naming the negative attitudes and mistaken assumptions about mental illness, especially in the African American community
Presence & Persistence … identifying the importance of authentic relationships in healing mind and spirit
Application & Action … highlighting practical steps to address the needs as they emerge
Cautions … being real about the fears and risks related to mental health crises, including the importance of referrals
Expression & Exhortation … calling on the cultural power of testimony to encourage the entire congregation to access the healing power of God
Jessica Young Brown concludes with a practical exploration of Now What? Digging the Well and Drawing from It. The books appendix features a brief primer on common mental disorders that frequently affect members of our family, neighborhood, and church.
Making SPACE at the Well combines an insightful mix of scriptural, psychological, theological, and practical wisdom to aid churchgoers and leaders who seek to promote mental health and to respond well to mental illness among fellow believers. Dr. Young Browns deep understanding of the complexities of mental health and the realities of church life has allowed her to craft an approach that will strengthen knowledge and inspire action in a wide variety of church settings.Heather Hartung Vacek, Vice President for Academics, Dean of Faculty, and Associate Professor of Church History, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Dr. Jessica Young Brown provides her readers with the wisdom of numerous years as a clinical psychologist in her book Making SPACE at the Well: Mental Health and the Church. This book provides a simple, yet compelling framework that will equip the layperson or faith leader who wishes to create a welcoming and inclusive space for those who may experience mental health and substance-use challenges. The concepts in this book are not only practical but actionable for anyone who desires to express unconditional love to those who seek genuine relationship and fellowship.Rev. Jermine Alberty, MDiv, Executive Director, Pathways to Promise
The story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well is richly woven throughout this book to call the black church to understand mental health in their life and action. Dr. Brown brings her deep faith to this subject along with her skill as a clinician and professor. While many churchgoers shy away from being vulnerable, hesitant to let their woundedness be seen, hiding away their brokenness, it is at those places where healing can come. When it is clear praise and prayer alone are not sufficient for wholeness in dealing with our mental health challenges, Dr. Brown calls the church to reduce stigma around mental health and to create a safe space for those on the margins because of mental illness to be drawn into the lifegiving relationship with Jesus and the community. This book affirms that, despite experiences of systemic racism and prejudice, the black church is the well where people may find strength and resilience for holistic mental health.Rev. Alan Johnson, Mental Health Advocate, Retired Chaplain, Chair of the UCC Mental Health Network board of directors
Dr. Jessica Young Brown is a licensed clinical psychologist focused on the intersection of faith and mental health. She works to help individuals and organizations seek wellness by exploring God's intentions for us to be healthy and whole.
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