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Mental Health Services in Faith Communities: The Role of Clergy in Black Churches

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A small but growing literature recognizes the varied roles that clergy play in identifying and addressing mental health needs in their congregations. Although the role of the clergy in mental health services delivery has not been studied extensively, a few investigations have attempted a systematic examination of this area. This article examines the research, highlighting available information with regard to the process by which mental health needs are identified and addressed by faith communities. Areas and issues where additional information is needed also are discussed. Other topics addressed include client characteristics and factors associated with the use of ministers for personal problems, the role of ministers in mental health services delivery, factors related to the development of church-based programs and service delivery systems, and models that link churches and formal services agencies. A concluding section describes barriers to and constraints against effective partnerships between churches, formal services agencies, and the broader practice of social work.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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