Derrick convened a very helpful UNCO session on self care for pastors. As the 15 pastors who were present talked about this issue, one thing stood out for me: most congregations may be willing to hear about the health issues of their pastor, except they mostly don’t want to hear about any mental health issues their pastor may have. If a pastor is struggling with, e.g., depression, do they dare to tell their congregation about this health issue? Probably not. Since ministers are at higher risk for the mental health issues of depression and substance abuse, this is a bit of a problem.
On the other hand, I get the feeling that many ministers don’t want to talk about mental health issues until they are actually facing trouble. In my opinion, ministers should have an ongoing relationship with a mental health professional, e.g., I talk every month with someone who is both a congregational consultant and a licensed family therapist. If a minister has such an ongoing relationship, if they do develop mental health problems they have someone they can turn to immediately; they also have someone who can help them identify a growing problem and get treatment before the problem affects work or personal life. Perhaps congregations could take more responsibility for their minister’s mental health by requiring and funding regular consultations with a therapist.