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Clergy and Caring for Mental Illness

Clergy and Caring for Mental Illness

Pastor Rick Warren, whose purpose-driven series of churches, books, and everything else has been such a hit, recently held a conference to announce a new initiative.

Gathering together the local Roman Catholic archdiocese, and mental health experts in his area, Pastor Warren aims to make his churches places where people can be connected to mental health services, without any stigma. (Read more on his plan here.)


This new idea has met with some concern from mental health providers themselves, some of whom point out that the evangelical church itself is responsible for much of the misinformation around mental illness in America. So they are not enthused at the prospect of a mega church jumping into the field. If Warren wants to improve the situation, they argue, he can start by directing folks to trained professionals, and tamping down on the “pray harder, you’ll feel better” rhetoric in his own backyard.

They respond to the NY Times article here.

How do you see the role of clergy in helping those with mental illness?

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Marshall Scott

Richard, it is still the case that clergy are still the first consultation for many families wrestling with the question of whether they're facing an issue of mental illness. Clergy need to know both enough to recognize a problem that may be that serious, and enough of their limits to know when and how to make a good referral.

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Richard III

Unless clergy are trained to actually diagnose and recognize real mental illness when they encounter it they might be well advised to leave it alone.

Richard Warren

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