National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from FaithNet NAMI

NAMI FaithNet Newsletter

May 26, 2006

Room for J: Family, Schizophrenia and Faith

When he was 20 years old, Joel Hanson had a psychotic break. His parents, Dan and Sue Hanson, struggled with their son’s schizophrenia in isolation for several years before finding NAMI.

In 2004, Dan Hanson wrote about his family’s experiences in a book titled Room for J: A Family Struggles with Schizophrenia. In 2005, Dan and Sue Hanson were guests on public radio’s Speaking of Faith program where they discussed the religious dimensions of their son’s illness, such as his belief that he is God, as well as how it has affected their own faith and their understanding of what it means to be human.

“I think, for me, the concept of God changed with Joel’s illness,” said Ms. Hanson in her radio interview. “Joel forced me to see God in him, whether I wanted to or not. And then, by seeing God in him and by being forced to see God in him, I saw it so clearly in others.”

The full 53 minute interview is available as a free audio download on the Speaking of Faith Web site, as are a written transcript and other related resources. Room for J is available from and other book sellers. Purchase through this link to, and NAMI will automatically receive a portion of the purchase price.

Faith-based Advocacy

by Gunnar Christiansen, FaithNet founder

Last Friday, May 19, 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times printed a letter to the editor by Tom Lambert that ran under the headline “Mental illness victims need our help.” This letter is an excellent example of how those in the faith community can use their influence to be advocates.

As members of a faith community, we have an opportunity and arguably an obligation to speak up individually and corporately concerning the need to give care to people living with a mental illness who are unable to adequately care for themselves. After you read Tom’s letter, I hope you will consider writing one of your own. Read more…

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