For Clergy: The Caring Clergy Project

We believe clergy can be an important link to helping their congregants get the mental health care they need.

Whether you are Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic or something else, you may be the first person congregants turn to for comfort, guidance, and help when they are facing mental health issues. The Caring Clergy Project* was launched to give you the background and tools you need to assist these congregants — and their families and friends — appropriately.

The intention is not for you to make a diagnosis, but to help you recognize when a congregant needs help from a mental health professional. If your congregant is overwhelmed with sadness, is in emotional distress, is having trouble with a relationship or is having trouble concentrating, pastoral counseling may be helpful. But it is also possible that your congregant needs to be evaluated and treated by a mental health professional.

Video resources:

Video: When To Refer a Congregant to a Mental Health Professional

Video: 8 Tips for Referring Your Congregants to Appropriate Mental Health Resources

Video: Developing and Maintaining a List of Referral Resources

Video: How Your Faith Community Can Help

5 Videos Especially About Suicide

Helpful Written Guidelines for Clergy:

Guidelines for Starting a Spiritual Support Group for Mental Health & Wellness (PDF here)

Guidelines for Starting a Mental Health Ministry in your Congregation (PDF here)

WISE Congregation Guidelines (PDF here)

Resources for Congregations

Sample covenant for welcoming/including/supporting people with mental illnesses, adopted by First Congregational Church in Boulder, Colo. on Oct. 19, 2014 (read article).

Checklist for Faith Communities: Becoming a Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged (WISE) Congregation for Mental Health, developed jointly by the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness and the UCC Mental Health Network. This checklist is designed to be a mirror showing you where your congregation is today and a window to see where you might go in the future.

The Congregational Resource Guide by Carole Wills is an extensive and fully annotated list of more than 60 mental health ministry resources. You will find printed and audio-visual resources for faith communities, pastoral caregivers, and the general public, as well as mental health-related organizations.

10 steps for developing a Mental Health Ministry in your congregation (pdf file)

Starting a Spiritual Support Group for Mental Health and Wellness In Your Faith Community

Sample guidelines for a spiritual support group (pdf file) Feel free to adapt these guidelines to your group’s specific needs.

*Seed funds for The Caring Clergy project were provided by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Boulder County, First Congregational Church of Boulder and individual donations.