A Chaplain's Reflection: Finding God while struggling with mental illness

Pradeep Hatcher

Seminary Alumna Beryl Knudsen says she has seen first-hand how hope in God positively affects those with mental illness.

Writing in the News-Times’  “Forum on Faith,” Knudsen, a chaplain at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, shared the story of her sister-in-law, who struggled with mental illness for forty years before passing away in 2018.

“It was not until the last few years of her life that her symptoms were under control. Although still anxious and depressed at times, she was no longer tortured by paranoid thoughts and angry outbursts,” wrote Knudsen. She was able to enjoy life. She had friendships. She was able to give to others.”

“This healing was in many ways due to her getting a medication that worked for her—and sufficient supervision to ensure that she took it regularly. Long before she found stability through her psychiatric medication, however, she found hope through her belief in God.”

In the article, Knudsen goes on to share her experiences facilitating a spirituality group in Danbury hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit.

“I never cease to be amazed at the spiritual depth revealed within this group. Patients have sincere questions about their relationship with God, their friends, and enemies. They express their need to forgive or be forgiven. They search for hope in seemingly hopeless situations.”

To read Knudsen’s full article in the News-Times, click here.

Beryl Knudsen graduated from St. Vladimir’s Seminary with a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) in 2014. In 2016, she was commissioned by the Orthodox Church in America as a hospital chaplain by Fr. John Eissman at Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Bethel, CT, where she is a member.