Towards Erasing the Shame of Mental Illness

Quite the honor and privilege to be here at the inaugural Honor Shame Conference 2017 at Wheaton College, near Chicago. This is very pioneering work to bring out other facets and perspectives embedded in Scriptures that are brought out through the lens of honor-shame cultures. Powerful presentation so far by Jayson Georges (of, Steve Hawthorne (cf. The Story of His Glory), and David deSilva (noted prolific author of Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture, Bearing Christ’s Reproach, The Challenge of Hebrews in an Honor Culture, Despising Shame: Honor Discourse and Community Maintenance in the Epistle to the Hebrews, The Hope of Glory: Honor Discourse and New Testament Interpretation). Tomorrow will be an awesome plenary from Jackson Wu.

I facilitated a workshop titled Towards Erasing the Shame of Mental Illness. The slides, transcript, and resources are online at

In the context of this conference, we took the first steps towards opening a conversation about how to erase the shame of mental illness. After all, if there’s stigma and shame about mental illness here in the United States, can you imagine how much more stigma and shame there is about mental illness in honor-shame cultures like those in East Asia? in the Middle East? in parts of Africa and Latin America? 70-75% of the world is still honor-shame oriented.

3 of the best ideas that we surfaced from the wisdom of the crowd, namely attendees and participants in the workshop, are:

  1. to provide mental health services in a place called a health clinic, that makes it more acceptable and accessible;
  2. to have a pastor and church leadership team (those at the top of the hierarchy) get training and implement something like Emotionally Healthy Spirituality that reshapes the culture (cf. “you change culture by creating new culture”),
  3. get the Hope for Mental Health Ministry Starter Kit from Saddleback Church.