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Publication Date: 16 Nov 2017
Publisher: IVP
Words: 58800
Page Count: 232
Author: Alan Thomas
ISBN-13: 9781783595594, 9781783595600

Tackling Mental Illness Together

A Biblical And Practical Approach
By Alan Thomas
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ISBN: 9781783595594
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ISBN: 9781783595600
· How do we deal wisely, intelligently and compassionately with those who suffer from mental illness?
· Can we really make a difference if we aren’t professionals?
· Is it possible to discern between bad behaviour due to illness and that caused by sin?

Discover how your church can become a safe, encouraging and healing place.

‘The next-best thing to spending a week shadowing Professor Thomas.’ Sinclair Ferguson

‘Rational, readable and relevant, this book confirms that all involved in pastoral work can help tackle mental illness.’ Andrew Fergusson

‘The go-to resource for those who want to know more: the wisdom of reliable clinical experience laced with academic rigour and good common sense, all grounded in God’s word. I recommend it highly.’ Glynn Harrison

‘Empowers us all to play our part.’ Debbie Hawker

‘An accessible, practical, sensible and biblically grounded resource to help us navigate this challenging terrain.’ Sharon James

‘Presented in a way that will instil confidence that we can work with mental health professionals.’ Nick Pollard

‘Alan Thomas has shared his own important insights in what will become a standard book on the subject, accessible and wise.’ Geoff Thomas
About the Author
Alan Thomas is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Newcastle University and works as a consultant psychiatrist in the National Health Service. A church elder with preaching and pastoral responsibilities, he is married to Shona and they have three adult children.
Press Reviews

Whether as a professional, carer, family member or perhaps a patient, every one of us will have been affected by mental illness. Christians may face further distress: is this behaviour sin or is it sickness? From a biblical and medical framework, and using case examples, consultant psychiatrist Alan Thomas makes everything clear. Rational, readable and relevant, this book confirms that all involved in Christian ministry and pastoral work can help tackle mental illness.

- Dr Andrew Fergusson

Attitudes to mental illness today are still disfigured by too much fear and too little understanding, and Alan Thomas has written the go-to resource for those who want to know more about this crucial area. Firmly rooted in sound scholarship, it is nevertheless hugely accessible to its target readership - pastors, clergy and all those wanting to understand more about their own struggles or those of a family member. Here they will find the wisdom of reliable clinical experience laced with academic rigour and good common sense, all grounded in the Word of God. I recommend it highly.

- Professor Glynn Harrison

This easy-to-read book improves our understanding of common mental health problems and their treatments. Using case studies and biblical teaching, it also empowers us all to play our part in helping, by reminding us that the little things (like listening, warmth and kindness) can help improved the mental health of those we encounter.

- Dr Debbie Hawker

This is a unique book, coming from a qualified, experience and deeply thoughtful man, dealing with a subject demanding much insight, compassion and also plain speaking. Making a certain distinction between immoral behaviour and that which is the result of a disease of the mind can at times be perplexing. Every case seems to be uncharted territory. There have been occasions when we have needed help. To whom can we turn? Now my friend Alan Thomas has shared his own important insights with us in what will become a standard book on the subject, accessible and wise.

- Geoff Thomas

Professor Alan Thomas is a psychiatrist with research interests in brain imaging and molecular biology. But he believes that human beings are more than just physical matter. Rather, we are holistic combinations of material bodies and immaterial spirits/minds - what he calls ‘psychosomatic wholes’. So, his book combines examples from his clinical practice, with summaries of scientific research, and theological reflections on the Bible’s teaching about the nature of humanity. The result is a comprehensive analysis of treatment possibilities for psychiatric disorders, presented in a way that will instil in church leaders the confidence that we can work together with mental health professionals as we seek to help people find healing from mental illness.

- Nick Pollard (Co-founder of and Chair of ‘A Spiritual Path to Mental Health’)

This is a most welcome book on a hot topic, especially coming as it does from a respected authority on the subject currently working in the UK National Health Service, Alan Thomas, who is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Newcastle University.
A recurring theme in the book is reflected in its title - that 'people with minimal training can provide real therapeutic benefit to the mentally ill'. Professor Thomas is concerned that DSM-5, the psychiatrist's diagnostic manual, has widened the definition of mental illness. Now, it seems, the behaviour is the disorder. More people are thus brought within the realm of treatment by the health profession, and this can send a discouraging and disempowering signal to ministers and churches - "this is a job for professionals." The truth is that both have complementary roles, and that wise, experienced, empathetic, 'ordinary' christians with good listening skills, who know the sufferer, can provide vital support to those with mental illnesses.
The subtitle of the book is 'A Biblical and Practical Approach', and hence begins with emphasizing the body-and-soul nature of man (mental illness is not just "all in the mind"), and the implications of the Fall on what we were made for. Professor Thomas roundly criticizes Freud's view of the unconscious mind, and provides a very clear assessment of the issue of personal responsibility in relation to mental illness ("Is it sickness or sin?"). He fascinatingly observes the effect of culture upon the manifestation of stress, eg. shell shock, before coming on to an overview of treatments - drugs, ECT, psychological approaches, and their effectiveness across the whole spectrum of mental illness. This is an informative guide and provides a good number of illustrative case studies drawn from many years of clinical practice.
Mental illness is difficult territory, but this book impresses as a go-to resource - not a slick read by any means, but giving an all-too-rare Christian perspective on a big subject.

- Christian Bookshop Ossett

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