Support the Café
Search our site

Coming Out: Episcopalians and Mental Illness

Coming Out: Episcopalians and Mental Illness

One of the great gifts of being in Christian community is celebrating the love that surrounds us on every side. And yet, many of our sisters and brothers suffer from isolation, even in the context of the Christian body, because of mental illness and associated stigma.


In a new blog called Unorthodox and Unhinged, the Rev. Joani Peacock, priest associate at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Va and a librarian at the Bishop Payne Library at Virginia Theological Seminary, tells her story. As an Episcopalian living with bipolar disorder, Joani describes herself as a “mental health evangelist” whose aim is to highlight the need for mental health awareness in parishes and communities of faith.

In addition to Unorthodox and Unhinged, Episcopalians elsewhere are speaking out, educating, and taking concrete steps to honor the dignity of every human being with mental illness. Holy Comforter in Atlanta, whose day center serves people with mental illness and other disabilities, combats stigma with open arms; today, nearly two-thirds of parishioners have a mental illness. At the diocesan level, the Diocese of Virginia’s Committee on Mental Health is one of the most visible and well-organized efforts by lay and ordained Episcopalians to provide resources for parishes who want to start a recovery ministry.

In the mental healthcare field, Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, an Episcopalian from Baltimore, is the Co-Director of the Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins University and serves as the Dalio Family Professor in Mood Disorders. The author of many books, including “An Unquiet Mind” and “Exuberance: the Passion for Life,” Jamison often deals with the spiritual dimension of mental illness in her writing.

For Rev. Peacock, the people of Holy Comforter, Dr. Jamison, and many others, this is the edge of a frontier for those who suffer from a mental illness and remain “in the closet.” In Christian communities, health and wholeness is possible when Christ’s love and courage-along with awareness and community support-becomes more important than shame and fear.

Dislike (0)
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jonathan Hagger

I wish Joani well but I am jealous of her. In the Church of England a priest has to keep any mental health problems from becoming known to his or her bishop. Otherwise, like me, they will end up being dismissed without any provision for their future and shunned by the church establishment and former colleagues.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts
2020_001

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café