The Influence of Secular and Theological Education On Pastors’ Depression Intervention Decisions
Payne, Jennifer Shepard
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Will a pastor refer to a mental health center? If they feel qualified to intervene themselves, they may not. Because pastors often provide grief counseling, it is important to understand the decisions they make when intervening with depressed individuals. A random sample of 204 Protestant pastors completed surveys about their treatment practices for depression. Fisher's exact analyses revealed that more pastors with some secular education yet no degree felt that they were the best person to treat depression than pastors who had no secular education or pastors who had at least a secular bachelor's degree. However, the level of theological education did not influence beliefs about the pastor being the best person to treat depression. In addition, neither secular nor theological education level influenced pastors' views on referring people to mental health centers for depression treatment. Based on findings, this paper discusses implications for best practices in training pastors on depression and other mental health topics.