142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Urban Pastors' views on behavioral health needs, counseling and referral in churches located in resource-poor communities

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jennifer Shepard Payne, PhD, LCSW , Department of Social Work, Azusa Pacific University, West Covina, CA
Disadvantaged communities have fewer behavioral health resources available to them; by default, urban pastors are frontline mental health workers. Few studies have sought pastors’ views on how they handle present behavioral health issues.  This study’s goal was to discover the lived experience of urban pastors and how they counsel based upon their own paradigms.

Research questions were:

1.  What phenomena have pastors experienced when counseling individuals with emotional issues?

2.  What do pastors provide to individuals with behavioral health problems in their congregations/ communities?

Protestant pastors participated in individual 90 minute open-ended qualitative interviews (phenomenological methodology).  Pastors were solicited via purposive sample, and interviews were done at the church or by phone. Data on 48 White, Black, and Hispanic pastors from urban areas of Chicago and Los Angeles are presented.  Data was audio-recorded, transcribed and coded using Atlas.ti.

Three themes emerged:

  1. Pastors discussed serious challenges that occurred in their own lives prior to entering the pastorate, how they overcame challenges, and how their challenges shape their present interactions with congregations and community.
  2. Pastors discussed their feelings of competency or overwhelm when addressing behavioral needs of their congregations and communities.
  3. Pastors discussed how racial and educational experiences shaped their interactions with others when dealing with behavioral health issues.

The increased understanding of the lived experiences of pastors can lead to healthy collaborations between practitioners and pastors when addressing behavioral health concerns.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
List three influences that impact the counseling and referral practices of urban pastors. Compare the counseling strengths and struggles of urban pastors based on race and ethnicity.

Keyword(s): Faith Community, Mental Health Treatment &Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator of the study I am presenting (funded by an external private foundation).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.