Clergy and mental illness: challenges to pastoral care among the clergy and in the community
Our guest speakers are:
Professor Gerard Leavey (University College London)
Dr. Gloria Dura Villa (University College London)
The transfer of psychiatric care from the institution to the community has, de facto, presented community structures including faith based organisations with an additional burden of care. In recent years there has been an increasing policy interest among government departments, public and non-statutory agencies for the inclusion of Faith Based Organisations as partners in health and welfare services. However, despite their long historical involvement in healing and healthcare, clergy, are seldom viewed by mental health professionals as partners in healing and restitution but with suspicion. This may be compounded by ignorance about mental health care provision within FBOs in the UK and the preparedness, confidence and willingness to undertake such care. Based on studies among UK and Irish clergy, I will examine barriers and dilemmas for clergy in recognising and managing mental illness.
Gloria Dura Villa:
The role the clergy played in the care of those suffering from sadness and depression, and their collaboration with mental health professionals will be explored. Interviews were carried out with Spanish Catholic priests in order to understand in depth the help they provided to those of their parishioners who were undergoing profound sadness and depression. Their opinions on the care offered by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, as well as on their experiences of jointly working with them were also sought. The priests’ testimonies were complemented with those most likely to seek their help in times of despair: religious lay people, nuns and monks.