Harold Koenig

In 2004, at a time when I had started raising mental health awareness in the Church, Harold G. Koenig, M.D. published, New Light on Depression, a book he had co-authored with David Biebel, D.Min. I read the book and was much inspired. It was just two years later, in 2006, that I founded Living Room. And only recently did I realize how much my work must have been influenced by this man and his book.:

I believe that what impressed me most was something he wrote in Part 3, Chapter 11, about the crucial role of love in our mental health struggles:

“True healing from depression can only occur within the context of supportive relationships. For everyone who is depressed needs at least one ally, preferably more, who will say in words and action: “I love you. There’s nothing you could do or say that would change that. I am with you now and I’ll be with you as long as you need me. I believe in you. I know that your depression has placed a great chasm between the person you really are and the person you feel you are. But I will try to help you bridge that gap with love—mine and God’s — for he loves you and believes in you too. We three are in this together—you, me, and God. And when this is over, together we’ll find a way to use the pain to help others.”

My personal belief about the “ally” he speaks of was that it meant God, or someone who had to have a very real presence of God in his heart.

Over the past year I have learned much more about Dr. Koenig—about his deep faith and about his passion to make the world, and especially the world of medicine, aware of the value of religion and spirituality to physical, emotional, and mental health. He has been doing this by tirelessly leading a massive amount of research proving this to be the case.

Dr. Koenig has over 60 books in print or in preparation. I’m sure he works so hard because he believes in Christ’s message that  “. . . with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) And God is surely with him.

What has Dr. Koenig most recently been up to?

Dr. Koenig is lead author of the Handbook of Religion and Health, 3rd edition (2023, Oxford University Press, forthcoming, with professors Tyler VanderWeele, Ph.D., TH Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, and John Raymond Peteet, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School).  He also co-led the 2022 Professional Development Training Course (PDTC) that trained over 1000 U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard chaplains and religious program specialists on “Spiritual Readiness” for combat operations for military personnel, as well as trained Ukrainian military leaders and chaplains on prevention of suicide. He is lead author of Spiritual Readiness: Essentials for Military Leaders and Chaplains (2022) and Moral Injury: A Handbook for Military Chaplains (2023), both available on Amazon.com.

In 2023, Dr. Koenig was ranked 10th in the world by Research.com in the category of Best Social Sciences and Humanities Scientists, and in the United States, was ranked 7th best  (see https://research.com/scientists-rankings/social-sciences-and-humanities; also, see https://researchblog.duke.edu/2023/06/28/new-rankings-place-duke-scholars-on-top-of-the-world/).

To learn more about Dr. Koenig’s work, go Spirituality, Theology and Health.