3 Things We Have Seen in Christian Mental Health Small Groups


3 Things We Have Seen in Christian Mental Health Small Groups

Guest Blog by Tim Reside, President of Bright Tomorrows

My wife, Nancy, and I were married in 1971, I was diagnosed with a mental illness (bipolar disorder) in 1979 and my wife is my number one support-giver. It has been a privilege for my wife and me to co-facilitate mental health small groups for over seventeen years.

For the past six years we have worked with Grace Alliance materials—particularly, in recent years, with their faith-inspiring, hope-affirming and clinically accurate workbook curriculum. From September through May we facilitate a bi-monthly small group for adults with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder (Living Grace Workbooks). A significant percentage of these live with the co-occurrence of other health challenges. Additionally, we also facilitate a bi-monthly group for support-givers (Family Grace Workbooks).


During these years we have seen: 


1. Freedom by Grace: Men and women set free from false guilt and shame as they begin to soak up grace in an atmosphere permeated by unconditional love and kindness;

2. Resilient Joy: Victims of life’s injustice acquire vision for living resilient joy-filled victorious lives even in the face of what often prove to be, for many of them, chronic mental health challenges; and 

3. Empowered Lives: Powerlessness replaced by empowerment as, through Christ’s strength, group participants progressively learn how to apply the education and coping skill training offered.

Researcher, Brené Brown, says it well:

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. … If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive” (Source: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead).

Tim Reside | President of Bright Tomorrows

Bright Tomorrows, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization composed of clergy, mental health professionals, individuals with mental health concerns and their family members. Bright Tomorrows is dedicated to reflecting the compassion of Jesus Christ by promoting mental health, helping those struggling with mental illness toward a healing-recovery lifestyle, and by assisting churches in their mission to better serve those with mental health concerns. The primary goals are to find ways to de-stigmatize mental illness, educate faith communities about mental illness, inform mental health professionals about faith and religious issues with regard to healing recovery, network churches and community resources to better meet mental health needs, and provide encouragement, spiritual support and resources to individuals and families struggling with mental illness. Visit Bright Tomorrows to learn more about their resources and programs.

If you found this blog helpful, be sure to subscribe to our email updates to stay informed with other blogs and exciting news. You can also order any of our workbooks for your own personal journey and/or to use in one of our small groups (FamilyLiving or Redefine Grace Groups) in your area.