The recent NIMH report on priorities for prevention research both expanded the definition of prevention, and recommended that a greater variety of participants and methodologies be used. This presentation will describe the potential effectiveness of collaboration with clergy and their congregations as a locus for prevention research. There are over 300,000 clergy working with religious congregations in the United States. Surveys of the general population have found that people with emotional difficulties initially seek help from clergy more frequently than from mental health professionals or primary care physicians. Clergy report spending an average of 15% of their working time providing help to persons who seek counsel. The multiple professional roles of clergy mirror the NIMH prevention categories: clergy understand the normative context of people's experience (Universal), they-and their congregations-are sources of social and emotional support (Selective), they are de facto gatekeepers to professional mental health care (Indicated) and they could provide community reinforcement for adherence to treatment (Relapse & Comorbidity). The NIMH also recommended a developmental approach to prevention research. The clergy follow the lives of some congregants from birth, through school years, to marriage and at times until death. This longitudinal relationship brings clergy in contact with people at times of transition that often include those serious stressors which are identified as placing people at risk for mental disorders. This report will recommend ways to work with clergy, as well as to empower and measure the effectiveness of their naturally occurring social support systems.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to describe four potential roles for clergy in Mental Health Disorders Prevention by applying each of the NIMH-defined categories: Universal, Selective, Indicated, Relapse and Comorbidity
Keywords: Prevention, Religion
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA