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Freed From Shame by Dawn Holmes (with Karen Todd) – BOOK REVIEW


‘Freed From Shame’ is a book about addressing the stigma of mental illness in the church where one in every four people each year are affected. Written with compassion and understanding, it shows practical ways forward for coming alongside those who are struggling.

The book is divided into three parts: ‘Understanding mental health‘ which gives a brief overview of a variety of mental illnesses, ‘Being Understood‘ which is a collection of real life stories told by those affected by mental illness, and ‘Equipping the church‘ which gives practical advice that individuals and churches can do to support those going through mental health difficulties.

Dawn writes from personal experience and draws on responses that she collected from anonymous online surveys. It is insightful as it incorporates lived experiences and brings the reader closer to understanding what it could be like for someone living with a mental illness and how it can be complicated and challenging having a faith, going to church and opening up about their struggles.

It’s a book that seeks to promote change in churches and offers practical ways forward such as really taking the time to listen to people and come alongside them, and knowing that it’s OK not to have an answer. Other ideas include befriending people in the service, the importance of the welcome team and not giving up on them. There are many more examples which can help both churches and individuals look out for or look after someone that they know who might be struggling with their mental health.

I love that the authors champion change within the church and I hope that churches will welcome this positive, practical and knowledgeable book within their congregations. If you read it, be sure to recommend it to those you know and if you’re part of a church, let the pastors know about it too!

This book gave me a better appreciation of what people with mental illness go through and has given me more confidence to be intentional in my conversations, especially to listen and know that it’s OK to not have all the answers, but to be a friend. Although this book is written with the church in mind, I believe that anyone who wants to help someone they know with their mental health but perhaps isn’t sure how to go about it will benefit greatly from what Dawn and Karen have to say.

For more about ‘Freed From Shame’ visit:

Dawn Holmes lives in Somerset with her husband, Colin, and they have five grown-up children, some of whom have flown the nest, and some who keep flying back! They have been part of a Newfrontiers church for many years and serve in a variety of ways. Dawn enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and dabbling in papercrafts. Her interest in mental health has grown as increasing numbers of people spoke with her regarding the Church’s response, prompting her to write this book.

Karen Todd is an author, speaker and trainer with many years experience in mentoring. Through her company, Simplicate, Karen helps clients build courses, resources and training in a variety of sectors, including Early Years, substance misuse, mental health and family support, as well as writing resources for parenting, marriage preparation and discipleship at She is passionate about creating people-focused tools that are both effective and easy to use. Having worked with parents for many years, Karen continues to support families through her parenting website She lives in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and three daughters.



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