Pastoral Care, the Image of God, and Mental Illness

Date(s) - 11/13/2021
9:30 am - 12:30 pm


Pastoral Care, the Image of God, and Mental Illness
Eighth Betty Jo Hay Seminar on Religion and Mental Health
Saturday, November 13, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm (Central Time)

We are familiar with and often comfortable encountering times of physical illnesses. We make hospital visits or phone calls after folks in our community are recovering from car accidents, cancer treatments, bypass surgeries. But at times of mental illnesses, we cringe. We are embarrassed, we don’t know what to say, we don’t even know how to be present. What do we do when someone stops eating, when a new mother becomes psychotic, when a family faces a suicide?  In this short seminar, we will consider some of the illnesses of the brain: major depression, anxiety, psychosis, cognitive decline. After familiarizing ourselves with their signs, symptoms, and basic treatments, we will explore the specifically pastoral and theological challenges they raise. What does the claim to being created in the image of God mean when one is mentally ill? What is the relationship between Christian faith and cognition? Despair and joy? Hope and memory?

Kathryn Greene-McCreight, PhD, is an affiliate priest at Christ Church, New Haven and serves as a spiritual director with Saint Hilda’s House and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Her most recent books I Am With You: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book, (Bloomsbury, 2016) and Darkness is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness (Brazos, 2006/2015). She is currently writing a commentary on Galatians for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible Series. Kathryn has served as co-chair of the Patient and Family Advisory Council for Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and is on the board of the Elm City Affiliate of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).  She has two adult children, and lives in Connecticut with her husband and their two goldendoodles.