Encouraging Signs Regarding Mental Health and the Church

Our ministry team specifically and the disability ministry movement in general has raced no greater challenge in recent years than getting the attention of pastors and important church leaders. Addressing that challenge was one reason we partnered to develop an online pastors retreat with a focus on mental health last October. Two developments during this past week left me encouraged that key leaders and organizations with great influence among local pastors are starting to “get it” when it comes to the need for mental health inclusion and support in the church.

The first development involved the recent work of the Barna group on the mental health struggles of ministry. During Barna’s weekly ChurchPulse podcast, they reported data from a study of pastors conducted last Fall in which roughly three in five pastors (59%) reported struggles with depression during their time in ministry – a significant increase when compared to the 46% who answered similarly in their State of Pastors (2016) study. 

Here’s their entire podcast, including interviews with Kayla Stoecklein and Juli Wilson, wives of influential young pastors who lost their husbands to suicide.

The other development involves the composition of a free, online conference we’re honored to be taking part in this coming Friday and Saturday. May is Mental Health Month, and in honor of Church Mental Health Day on May 21 Church Communications is hosting the free, two-day Thrive and Cultivate Summit this coming Friday and Saturday. I’ll be discussing why churches need a mental health inclusion strategy and Catherine will be speaking on the topic How to Create Successful Mental Health Ministry in Any Sized Church.

In addition to friends and colleagues from the mental health ministry movement including Kay WarrenJermine AlbertyLaura HoweJeremy Smith and D.J. Chuang, one of the recently announced featured speakers is Carey Nieuwhof. In addition to hosting an extremely popular podcast, Carey is arguably the most influential pastor among his fellow pastors in the North American church. His willingness to draw attention to the issue of mental health and the church is huge for all of us working in this ministry field.

We’d like our readers to consider two action steps in response to this post. First, we’d love to have you join us this weekend for the Thrive and Cultivate Summit. You can use this link to register for free. The very presence of events such as this one is reason to be hopeful that the church is starting to “get it” when it comes to mental health. Second, we’d appreciate your help in getting the word out by forwarding this post to any pastors or church staff who need to know about events such as this.


In Mental Health and the Church: A Ministry Handbook for Including Children and Adults with ADHD, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, and Other Common Mental Health Conditions, Dr. Stephen Grcevich presents a simple and flexible model for mental health inclusion ministry for implementation by churches of all sizes, denominations, and organizational styles. The book is also designed to be a useful resource for parents, grandparents and spouses seeking to promote the spiritual growth of loved ones with mental illness. Available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook and other fine retailers everywhere.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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