After John’s death, Phil began compiling research and the names of potential donors: he wanted to do something to help ministers in crisis.
There are some wonderful retreat centers out there, he noted. But a severely depressed pastor isn’t likely (or even able) to make a trip halfway across the country.
Experienced therapists are at the ready in just about every city. But confusion and apathy can keep a mentally ill minister from choosing one and making the appointment. And then there’s the expense.
Doctors are willing to treat the physical symptoms of depression. But this illness attacks more than the body.
Churches should be places of healing and grace. But too many see mental illness as a character flaw, a sin, or blame it on a lack of faith – keeping their mentally ill ministers isolated in the closet.
How then can we best help ministers experiencing a mental health crisis?
Before Phil could arrive at an answer, depression came for him too. Out of the blue at age sixty-nine. A man who’d read thousands of books could no longer make sense of the words on a page. Once articulate and witty, he said very little as the gears in his head struggled to form short sentences. Known for being a gregarious joyful prankster, Phil no longer laughed or smiled. His once healthy body – stronger than most men half his age – now skinny and aching to the bone.
“I never understood what it was like until now,” he told me.
He swore he’d get better though. And when he did he’d solve this problem. He promised he would. But his recovery never came. So his family is keeping his promise.
After a lot of consultation with experts in mental health, ministry and social work, we’re ready to keep Phil’s promise.
I’d like to tell you about what we’re doing in more detail tomorrow. But today you can visit lineberger.org to learn a little more and make a donation. Your gift is tax deductible and 99% of your donation will go to care and research: A more effective form of care for ministers in crisis and pioneering research on the mental health of American clergy.