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The numbers of clergy experiencing burnout and depression has increased for a number of reasons. Most faith communities face financial stresses. Staff reductions have forced many faith leaders to take on more duties. Many clergy feel pressured to raise money and run capital campaigns which leaves less time for performing their pastoral responsibilities. Seminary graduates are leaving school with more personal debt than previous generations. With more duties, many clergy report being overwhelmed with more work and responsibilities. The workload and lack of support can lead to feelings of isolation, burnout and depression. Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, clergy often self-medicate instead of reaching out for help when feeling anxious, over-whelmed or stressed out.
More than 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. It is this country's 10th leading cause of death, and is often characterized as a response to a single event or set of circumstances. However, unlike these popular conceptions, suicide is a much more involved phenomenon. The factors that contribute to any particular suicide are diverse and complex, so our efforts to understand it must incorporate many approaches.
Psychological trauma most often arises from abusive interpersonal events – child abuse, rape, domestic violence, captivity, combat – events in which one fears for one’s life or the life of others or experiences intense fear, helplessness or horror, or from the witnessing or learning of a violent tragic event. The experience of betrayal magnifies the negative power of the experience and can be the difference between what is simply a bad experience, and a traumatic experience.
For many college students the first time they are away from home is when they enter higher education. The college experience is challenging for all students as they navigate through making new friends, achieving academic success, establishing their identity, learning to live independently, and planning their futures.
The sharing of personal stories and experiences provides a way to give voice to those who have suffered in silence, and allows churches to begin the process of reaching out and providing compassionate care to those affected by disorders of the brain.
Depression is not a normal part of the aging process. Everyone feels sad or "blue" from time to time. But growing older involves adjusting to life changes that often involve loss: of loved ones, of familiar routines, of physical health. Depression is the most common emotional disorder in older adults, occuring in about one in seven people over 65.
The holidays are especially difficult when our own feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression and anxiety are the opposite of the "Hallmark" images we see all around us.
Clergy need to educate themselves about mental illness so they can help their congregation provide appropriate support and friendship.
Bible verses of comfort for persons with a mental illness. From the New Revised Standard Version.
At least one in ten new mothers experience various degress of postpartum depression. These feelings can occur within days after delivery or appear gradually sometimes up to a year or more later.
By Carlene Hill Byron - first published by Vision New England's Ministries with the Disabled, Acton, Massachusetts. How many families in your church have a loved one who struggles with mental health problems? That's kind of a trick question. People don't talk about mental health problems.