Theses Doctoral

Clergy's Perceptions of their Role in Mental Health Service Delivery: A Qualitative Examination

Frontus, Mathylde K.

In recent years, racial and ethnic disparities in mental health service access, utilization and outcomes has been well documented. Specifically, African Americans are underrepresented as consumers of formal mental health treatment. While the literature reveals that clergy are often the first choice for African Americans who do seek mental health assistance, it also documents that little is known about how clergy specifically address the mental health needs of help-seekers.
The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the perceptions of a group of clergy in the Coney Island community of Brooklyn, NY, regarding their role in mental health service delivery and how they address the mental health concerns of help-seekers--particularly African Americans. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted in person with 10 Protestant clergy. Four overarching themes emerged from the data: (1) beliefs about pastoral role, (2) views on mental health need, (3) views on mental health service delivery, and (4) barriers to mental health service utilization.
Findings revealed that most clergy believed that the direct provision or referral of mental health services for help-seekers was an integral part of their pastoral duties. Implications for social work practice, education, and future research are discussed.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Simon, Barbara
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 24, 2015