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Clergy Health

Clergy play many important roles within the church and congregation. This collection guides congregations through how to evaluate and improve the quality of clergy mental health for a better congregation.


5 Resources
Davidson Centre for the Professions – The Clergy Program
This program for clergy offers a weeklong residential retreat that takes a holistic...
web resource
Is Your Congregation a Clergy Killer? How Church-goers Matter to the Mental Health of Pastors
This web resource includes a study of 1,500 ministers in the Duke Clergy Health Initiative...
Study Finds Unique Positive Mental Health Factors for Clergy
This research article reveals factors unique to clergy positive mental health and how these...
Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis
This book presents the findings of Duke's Clergy Health Initiative, which studied the mental...
Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary
This organization provides annual sabbatical grants for Christian clergy of up to $50,000,...

Guest Contributor

Doug Hanner

Doug Hanner is a pastor and former CRG director. He has a strong background of lay ministry and strategic planning coaching and consulting.

Clergy Health

Today, there are lots of people out there who may be looking for ways to improve their overall mental and emotional health. Whether seeking help for an ongoing issue, a specific trauma, or beneficial ways to strike a strong work-life balance, doing so can go a long way toward helping them live a long, happy, and healthy life. When people are trying to improve their mental and emotional health, it is not unusual for them to possibly turn to a religious leader for assistance. At the same time, however, it can also be good for everyone to also think about the health of their clergy itself, as clergy health is a key, and often overlooked, topic. When it comes to clergy depression statistics, many people might be surprised to discover that depression rates among members of the clergy are so high. Clearly, this population has been overlooked for far too long and it may be helpful to now take a closer look at the quality of clergy mental health and how it can be elevated.

It can be good to take steps to care for all types of clergy, which is why hospitality homes for pastors exist. Mental health church ministry can potentially be seen as one of the most important aspects of religion today. In order for people to take care of their physical health, they may also need to take care of their mental health. This includes health clergy members. There are numerous ways in which the congregation can help support the health of its leaders. For example, the congregation may want to see if there's anything they can take off of their clergy members’ plate, thereby helping to reduce their emotional stress. Or, it might also be a good idea to have them go on a retreat, from time to time. A change of scenery can go a long way toward helping improve the health of clergy members. And finally, it can also be helpful to not overlook the assistance that a trained mental health professional can provide. Even in the clergy, mental health professionals can be helpful. It might prove to be a good move for the congregation to use everything at their disposal to help take care of the mental health of their clergy members.

Pastor Retreats

Over the past few years, there has been an increased focus paid to pastor retreats. Pastor retreats can be incredibly helpful, because they can allow members of the clergy to decompress, recharge, and focus on their own mental health. Fortunately, when it comes to mental health and the church, there are many free retreats available for pastors and leaders out there.

Many people are wondering why these outings can be so helpful, to which it could be said that there are several reasons why these outings may have become more common. First, a simple change of scenery can go a long way toward improving the overall health of a member of the clergy. Too often, perhaps, members of the clergy will simply not get to see that much, outside of the four walls of their house of worship. And while this house of worship is their home, it can also be good for members of the clergy to remind themselves that there is more to the world than their religious building. Taking a retreat, going somewhere else, and getting some fresh air may be able to go a long way toward helping them to de-stress.

These outings can also provide members of the clergy with an opportunity to learn more about self-care and stress management. Unfortunately, stress management can often go overlooked during the educational process - but there may be several key elements of emotional management that members of the clergy might learn, during these outings. For example, they might be taught how to manage conflict resolution within the congregation. If there is a conflict taking place in a house of worship, it can potentially drive up everyone's stress level, so it can be good to be able to intermediate these types of situations.

Furthermore, these outings may be able to help people recognize the warning signs indicating that they might need to take better care of their own emotional health. Changes in appetite, emotional irritability, and difficulty sleeping can all be common signs that a retreat may be necessary. The earlier the signs are recognized, the better it will likely be for everyone's overall emotional health. These can represent a few of the foremost topics that are likely going to be covered at these outings.

Clergy Care

In addition to going on a retreat, there are other resources available that might be helpful, when it comes to clergy care. Caring for clergy members has become a major topic that everyone may be able to benefit from knowing more about, and it can be good for all members of the clergy to make sure that they stay healthy. For instance, there are specific programs available that can help members of the clergy access trained mental health professionals, if they are looking for someone to talk to. There is no shame in asking for help, and even religious leaders might need to understand that there can be some situations in which they should speak with a counselor, a therapist, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist.

Adding on to that, there are also free resources available out there. For example, members of the clergy may be able to work through online tutorials, watch videos, and read books that can teach them how to take better care of themselves and their emotional health. For instance, religious leaders may simply need to take a step back, when they are preparing a sermon on a difficult topic, as even the very information that they are trying to communicate may contribute to issues related to their emotional health. Fortunately, they do not have to go through this alone, and there are always professionals available who are willing to lend a helping hand.

Finally, these free resources are also going to cover a variety of ways in which members of the clergy may be able to better manage their emotional health and stress levels. For example, members of the clergy will often try and organize an event in the community that can provide them with a healthy outlet for stress management. This may involve a community service project, helping those in need, or simply going on an outing somewhere else. Lastly, these resources can also help let members of the clergy know that there's nothing wrong with asking for help, as there will always be members of the congregation who are willing to step up and provide assistance to religious leaders in need.

Clergy Mental Health

When it comes to clergy mental health, there are several challenges that congregational leaders may find themselves facing on a regular basis. Unfortunately, pastors’ mental health statistics reveal that religious leaders often experience mental health issues at a rate that is higher than that of the general population. And although the stigma that used to surround mental health issues in the community has started to fade, some people believe that there is still a stigma surrounding mental health and the church. When it comes to destigmatizing mental health in the church, the first thing that can be helpful to have people understand is that it is okay to ask for help.

There are a number of major challenges that members of the clergy are likely going to face, when it comes to their own mental health. First, members of the clergy are often enlisted to help other people with their own mental health issues. Therefore, members of the clergy may begin to feel as if they are not able to experience their own mental health issues. Sadly, this is just one example of the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues in the church.

Whether a member of the clergy is suffering from anxiety, depression, insomnia, bipolar disorder, or something else entirely, it can be incredibly helpful for them to simply remember that it is okay to ask for help. Furthermore, there's a good chance that there may even be a mental health professional among the members of the congregation. And given the exceptional service that religious organizations are often able to provide to the local community, there's a good chance that someone in the congregation would be willing to provide counseling services to members of the clergy. Religious leaders never have to go through these issues alone.

Pastor Burn Out

Finally, it can also be a good idea to address the topic of burnout. In all lines of work, burnout has the potential to become a serious issue. This includes religious services. One of the first things to do, in this case, might be to define what “burnout” means. Burnout is a phenomenon that develops when someone can simply no longer pull themselves out of bed to go to work anymore. And although burnout is commonly associated with the medical and financial fields, it is becoming more common among religious leaders, as well. Unfortunately, pastor burnout statistics are high. Burnout commonly stems from depression - and depression among pastors can develop with an insidious onset. At first, pastors may not even realize that they are suffering from depression. But then, before they realize it, they may be having serious difficulty in even getting out of bed in the morning. With this in mind, it can be immensely helpful for congregational leaders to be able to recognize the early signs of burnout and depression.

There can be several signs to indicate that burnout might be developing. For instance, there might be massive changes in someone's eating habits. Individuals may also have a hard time falling asleep at night, or they might end up sleeping the entire day. Furthermore, people who are suffering from burnout may develop feelings of guilt surrounding situations that are not even remotely their fault. People can also tend to stop enjoying activities which used to bring them great pleasure.

If a member of the clergy is starting to recognize that burnout is developing, there are resources that are available to help. First, it may be good to ensure that the members of the clergy are able to feel comfortable in reaching out to trained professionals for assistance. Mental health professionals are willing to step up in order to help those in need. Then, it might be good to see if other members of the clergy would be willing to take over some extra responsibilities for a short while, which can provide someone with the necessary space to be able to handle burnout in an appropriate manner.

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