Why you should profile a wellness minister

A woman prays at the Church of Saints Simon and Helena in Minsk, Belarus. (Petr Magera via Creative Commons)

Just a few years ago, stories on religion and mental health were more likely to be about faith leaders ostracizing congregants with mental disorders than offering them help. That’s starting to change as houses of worship increasingly reject harmful practices and seek to connect members with meaningful resources. 

Earlier this month, Faith & Leadership wrote about a North Carolina congregation facing a suicide epidemic. Rather than preach on why such deaths are sinful, the church created new discussion groups on suffering and mourning. It will soon hire a wellness director to supervise the ongoing response. 

This edition of ReligionLink offers the tools you’ll need to cover developments like that in your region. The relationship between faith communities and mental health professionals is still imperfect, but solutions-oriented stories may help your readers bring about more positive changes.

Background reading

Relevant research

U.S. sources

International sources

  • Carlos Eduardo Amaral

    Carlos Eduardo Amaral is a professor of collective health at the University of Campinas in Brazil. He has studied how patients access mental health care in Brazil, which includes seeking faith healing or speaking with a religious leader.

  • Ricardo Araya

    Ricardo Araya directs the Centre for Global Mental Health at King’s College London. He specializes in developing affordable treatments to mental disorders and implementing them in resource-poor countries.

  • Milesh Hamlai

    Milesh Hamlai helped increase access to and use of medical treatments for mental illness in Ahmedabad, India, by creating the Dava and Dua Program, which seeks to bridge the gap between modern medicine and faith healing.

  • Mark van Ommeren

    Mark van Ommeren studies how traumatic experiences affect mental wellness for the World Health Organization.

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