Proeschold-Bell and Adams on Clergy Mental Health
Date: May 22nd, 2016

Who ministers to the clergy when a pastor needs emotional and spiritual support?  While the ministers are often seen as individuals who offer counseling to parishioners, we often forget that members of the cloth are people who also need psychological support.  To address this issue, we invite two researchers who have been investigating factors related to both positive and negative mental health outcomes for members of the United Methodist clergy in North Carolina.  Dr. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell (associate research professor of global health at Duke University) is the lead investigator of the Clergy Health Initiative and Dr. Chris Adams (associate professor of psychology at Azusa Pacific Seminary) is a co-researcher on that project and someone who has extensive experience counseling missionaries and seminarians.  We begin our back-to-back interviews with Dr. Proeschold-Bell who emphasizes how important it is not only to pay attention to negative mental health outcomes, but also the predictors of positive mental health.  Rae Jean discusses the difference between emotions and moods, the particular stressors that clergy find themselves susceptible to, and how having a supportive congregation and network of personal relationships can determine levels of depression or burn-out amongst the clergy.  We then talk with Dr. Adams about what he took away from the research and how he has applied it to his role as a counselor to members of the clergy.  Chris discusses a number of specific cases where a supportive congregation can make a big difference in the psychological health of a pastor.  Recorded: May 11, 2016.


Dr. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell’s bio at the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI).

Dr. Chris Adam’s bio at Azusa Pacific University (link undergoing redesign).

Duke Divinity School’s Clergy Health Initiative.

Clergy Health Initiative Summary Report (2014).

Study Finds Unique Positive Mental Health Factors for Clergy,” DGHI news release.

The Glory of God Is a Human Being Fully Alive: Predictors of Positive versus Negative Mental Health Among Clergy,” be Proeschold-Bell et al., in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (possible paywall or requires institutional affiliation).


Alexander Ross on Religion and Happiness.

Gregory Popcak on Religion, Psychology, and the Seven Longings.

Rob Moll on Religion and the Brain.

Bradley Wright on SoulPulse.

Justin Barrett on the Naturalness of Religious Belief.

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