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Being examples to the flock

December 16, 2009

While rates of depression are higher for African-Americans than whites, only about half who experience depression are seeking help. Mental health professionals are seeking ways to help this group get access to mental health care services, and many are focusing on the church as a way to connect to these communities.

Temple developmental psychologist Adam Davey says that by forming collaborative relationships with black church leaders, it could help link families to mental health care services more effectively.

Davey is a co-author on a case study, published online in this month’s edition of Contemporary Family Therapy, which looked at the roles that church leaders at a Baptist mega-church in North Philadelphia played as gatekeepers to mental health services for their congregation.

Davey and his co-authors found that at this church, different levels of church leadership had different views about the advisement of congregants to seek outside mental health services. While the senior pastor was open to talking with parishioners about it, those who were further away from him (deacons and congregation caregivers) were not so.

“Finding ways to improve contact and transmission of views within larger churches so that attitudes and views arte transmitted more easily throughout the hierarchy of the church is a future endeavor that might help improve parishioners’ use of outside mental health services when needed,” write the authors.

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