The Faith Community and Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health:
"Equipping faith communities to decrease stigma, support recovery and enhance wellness"
A National Training Initiative (NTI)
One-quarter (25%) of those who ever sought treatment for mental disorders did so from a faith leader. Clergy continue to be contacted by higher proportions than psychiatrists (17%) or general medical doctors (17%). Nearly one-quarter of those seeking help from a faith leader in a given year have serious mental disorders and the majority of them are seen exclusively by the clergy, and not by a physician or mental health professional. (Health Services Research, 2003). Unfortunately, clergy and their congregations rarely feel well-equipped to serve people with mental illnesses.
Over 90% of faith leaders consider substance use as an important problem in their congregations, but only 12.5% of faith leaders have had any training to address this issue. (National Center in Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 2001)
An NTI site covers a city, county or region. Guiding a local Training Site is a planning group made up of representatives from key and diverse stakeholders—faith groups, consumers and families, community mental health providers and advocates, pastoral counselors, parish nurses, and other community allies. The NTI planning group helps organize neighborhood clusters of congregations and other community partners, who participate in core NTI trainings on mental health and substance use, as well as other trainings identified in the annual curriculum of continuing education. The result is reduced stigma, increased knowledge, and the development of skills in promoting recovery.
In response to these pressing needs, Pathways to Promise and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors have begun to implement a national training and educational initiative. This emerged out of the National Mental Health Summit held in Belleville, IL, sponsored by Pathways to Promise in 2009. Pilot Projects in St. Louis, MO and several communities in Washington State, supported by foundations and by state departments of mental and behavioral health, have just recently completed their first year of implementation.
The training resources developed for the St. Louis project are now available online at www.pathways2promise.org. They are available for individuals within a congregation, or as train-the-trainer resources.
An NTI Advisory Task Force will seek national partners among faith groups, agencies, national organizations, state and county behavioral health programs, and foundations.
If you are interested in participating or wish to know more about this initiative, please contact:
Rev. Robert Dell, Chair||Douglas M. Ronsheim, LMFT, D.Min.|
|Pathways to Promise||American Association of Pastoral Counselors|