More than half of US pastors deal with mental health issues in churches, study reveals

Article by Kelly Valencia - Premier Christian News

A new study has revealed more than half of pastors in protestant churches in the US, deal with mental health issues affecting their congregations.

Lifeway Research has conducted a study about mental health illness, within protestant churches in the US and how pastors are dealing with it.

According to the study, at least 54 per cent of pastors said they “have known at least one church member who has been diagnosed with a severe mental illness such as clinical depression, bipolar or schizophrenia.”

In comparison, only 34 per cent said they had “never had a church member diagnosed with a severe mental illness.”

Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, explained that “there is a healthy generational shift occurring, as younger and middle-aged pastors are much more likely to have encountered people in church with severe mental illness than the oldest pastors.”

“However, it is not clear whether the presence of those with difficult mental illnesses is increasing among church members or if they have simply felt more comfortable sharing their diagnosis with younger pastors.”

Pastors’ mental health has also been taken into account in the study. At least 26 per cent of those surveyed said they “have struggled with some type of mental illness” including 17 per cent who said it had been diagnosed and another nine per cent who had experienced it but was never diagnosed.

The study also showed those pastors under 45 “are the most likely to say they have endured mental illness.”

In terms of mental health being talked about from the pulpit, at least “60 per cent [of] pastors say they speak about acute or chronic mental illness in sermons or large group messages at least once a year.”

“For more than two in five pastors, the issue comes up multiple times a year, with 30% talking about it several times a year, nine per cent about once a month and four per cent several times a month.”

You can read the full study here.


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