A Conversation for Those Standing at the Intersection of Faith and Mental Health


Tools for Today's Culture

There are several ways one could describe modern American culture. Some have referred to it as a celebrity culture, given the value we place on fame and stardom. Others have described it as a competitive culture, given the emphasis many put on individualism and free market capitalism. One increasingly common way of defining our national way of life is to see ourselves as inhabiting a shame and honor culture. Borrowing from the work of Andy Crouch, David Brooks of the New York Times describes a shame and honor culture as one in which “you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you, by whether it honors or excludes you”. Labeling America this way is a recent phenomenon influenced by social media trends such as comparing our number of “likes” and making “virtue signaling” posts. For example, many look to their social media “friends” to validate their identity and tell them who they are. Though every culture has its strengths and weaknesses, living in a shame and honor culture can have a particularly troubling effect on those with mental illness. In addition to the anxiety-producing pressure of always performing for an audience, these cultures leave no release valve for sharing our struggles. To do so may damage our reputation beyond repair and leave us embarrassed and excluded.

How does living in such a culture shape how mental health professionals provide care? While many resources could be offered, one important and underutilized tool for living in today’s culture is faith. Whereas a shame and honor lens measures one’s value on the vacillating voices of your surrounding community, a faith-based lens measures your value on the steady and stable voice of God. As the Hebrew Scriptures affirm, “The one who believes in Him will not be put to shame (Isa. 28:16). Similarly, the Christian scriptures emphasize that God himself was willing to experience the shame of a public death, so that we could experience the honor of living as a child of God. Therefore, a faith-based identity cannot be taken away by the shaming voice of others because it’s an identity grounded in an entirely different voice. To be sure, offering mental health resources within a pluralistic society means serving people across a spectrum of religious belief and unbelief. Do all people in such a society desire these resources? No. Should mental health professionals impose such resources on people? Never. Could such resources be valuable tools for those living with mental illness in a shame and honor culture? Always.

David Eckert, Director of Intersect

Recommended Resources
Below are resources for the purpose of wellness, education, and service.

The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe about Ourselves

By Curt Thompson

Psychiatrist Curt Thompson unpacks the soul of shame, revealing its ubiquitous nature and neurobiological roots. He also provides the theological and practical tools necessary to dismantle shame, based on years of researching its damaging effects and counseling people to overcome those wounds.


Faith and Mental Health Summit

Intersect, in association with Upper Perkiomen Community Church, will be hosting a faith and mental health summit this September.

What are the challenges in talking about and taking care of the mental health of our communities, churches, and ourselves? How can we do better? Let’s talk about it!

Event Title: Equipping for Life at the Intersection

Event Date: September 30, 2023

Event Location: 258 Main Street, East Greenville, PA 18041


Intersect: Join Our Multi-Faith Coalition

The Multi-Faith Coalition exists to cultivate trust and collaboration between people from diverse faith communities and service organizations by acting as a convener to promote dialogue and resource sharing for the common good. The coalition consists of three committees that play an important role in how we accomplish this mission, including the Resource Sharing Committee. Members of the Resource Sharing Committee actively work together to identify resources and gaps in services so that we can more effectively strengthen our collective efforts to improve the overall health of our region.

Visit our webpage to learn about how you can get involved.


Looking for a way to help those in your community?

Intersect: Community Needs Facebook Group

This Facebook group functions as a care portal for faith communities who are looking to meet local needs in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. We will post needs specific to the individuals supported by Access Services. These may include needs for relational support, material resources, and/or monetary donations. We encourage you to share this page with your family and friends. While we started this page to provide concrete service opportunities to local faith communities, we encourage any community members who are interested in giving back to join!

Questions to Ponder

  1. In what ways have you seen the U.S. take on the traits of an honor/shame culture?
  2. What resources do you see faith possessing to combat shame in the lives of those with mental health struggles?

Do you have something to contribute or a question to ask?

Intersect is brought to you by:


Access Services
500 W Office Center Drive, Suite 100  | Fort Washington, Pennsylvania 19034
215-540-2150, x1286    deckert@accessservices.org

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