Clergy mental health has deteriorated sharply during the pandemic, with psychological referrals through clergy wellbeing charity St Luke’s soaring by nearly 350% in recent months.
St Luke’s provided 146 psychological appointments in the first ten weeks of 2021, up from 43 in the first 12 weeks of 2020, through its honorary consultants who provide second opinions and clinical care for clergy via St Luke’s.
Leading psychiatrist Dr Gary Bell is expecting consultations to double this year: ‘This is the highest level of demand for help from clergy that I have experienced over the ten years I have been associated with St Luke’s. I anticipate the number of appointments via St Luke’s to increase from 400 in 2020 to around 750 this year. Keeping clergy wellbeing at the top of the Church’s agenda is essential.’ Dr Bell is a trustee and honorary consultant with St Luke’s, providing clinical psychiatric care through Cognacity, a private provider of mental health services.
The massive increase in demand is putting a significant strain on resources, however. Says St Luke’s CEO Dr Claire Walker: ‘St Luke’s is here to support as many clergy and dioceses as we can with mental health and wellbeing resources, but this increase in need for psychological care will take a significant proportion of our funds – and it will be unsustainable without an increase in donations. For example, Dr Bell’s practice gives St Luke’s a hugely generous reduction of more than 60% in consultation fees, but with the jump in referrals, this still represents a £75,000 spend in this coming year. This is a huge amount for St Luke’s and we urgently need an increase in donations to cover it.’
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