Monica A. Coleman, MDiv, Ph.D., knows how depression, despair, and other psychological struggles have long been taboo topics in the African American community. While searching for answers to combat her own mental struggles, Coleman discovered there were few books on the topic written exclusively for and by African Americans. Therefore, Coleman, who teaches theology and African American religions at Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, recently wrote Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith. The powerful 356-page book explores her journey with Bipolar II, and her faith and spiritual walk to wholeness.
On Sunday, July 31 at 12 noon, Coleman will preach at Third New Hope Baptist Church (Main Campus), located at 12850 Plymouth Rd., just west of Meyers in Detroit. Dr. Edward L. Branch, senior pastor, encourages all to attend at no cost.
Dr. Coleman’s message will center on scripture, as it relates to her journey and experiences with Bipolar II, and the overall state of mental health in the black community. “We just don’t talk about mental illness in the African American community like we should,” said Coleman. “We don’t even call it mental illness. We will say that we are having the blues or going through grief, or we are just very tired.”
Coleman’s message at Third New Hope is to create a safe space that will help people of faith reflect on their respective journeys to truth, balance, self- acceptance, and wholeness of body, mind and soul. She hopes that her message will help African Americans realize that depression and other mental conditions are not just for people of other ethnicities.
“It’s very important that we talk about our mental health challenges in our communities,” she said. “It’s important that my message is heard and that it helps African Americans know and understand the signs and symptoms of depression, and how to get help to manage such struggles.”
Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Mich., Coleman went on to graduate from Harvard University. She is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the first black woman to be appointed a full professor of theology at Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, Calif, where she teaches theology and African American religions. The African American Pulpit, a quarterly journal that recognizes the best in black preaching, once named her to its list of “Top 20 to Watch – The New Generation of Leading Clergy.”
Additionally, Coleman has been featured as an expert in religion and mental health on National Public Radio, PsychCentral.com, and Huffington Post Live. She is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on metaphysic, and black and womanist theological traditions.
“There are many people suffering from depression and bipolar disease who are also striving to maintain their faith,” said Coleman. “I hope by sharing my challenges and experiences, it will help other people feel less alone in theirs.”
Coleman reflects on her new book. “I wrote ‘Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith,’ knowing that the more that I and other African American women and men share about our pains, our families and our strivings for mental wellness, the better chance we have of changing the stories our children tell.”
For more information on Dr. Monica A. Coleman, log on to http://www.monicaacoleman.com.