This autumn, St Luke’s continues to experience a huge spike in demand from clergy for mental health support. Psychological referrals to the charity have more than tripled since the start of the pandemic. St Luke’s is doing everything possible to meet demand, but resources are strained.
The figures speak for themselves: the charity provided 146 psychological appointments in the first ten weeks of 2021, up from 43 in the first 12 weeks of 2020. This enables clergy to access experienced, skilled psychologists, but comes at a cost to St Luke’s.
Says CEO Dr Claire Walker: ‘This surge in demand is unprecedented and has a significant impact on St Luke’s finances. For example, our psychiatric honorary consultant Dr Gary Bell 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.’
In order to reduce the psychological strain on clergy, the charity continues to seek innovative ways to improve clergy wellbeing, to enable clergy to minister healthily and effectively in the long-term. As well as a pilot scheme providing pastoral supervision for British Army Chaplains, St Luke’s is collaborating with Clergy Support Trust to pilot a wellbeing programme for curates, providing expert training in Mental Health First Aid and building resilience.
‘This increase … is unsustainable without an increase in donations’ CEO Dr Claire Walker
St Luke’s also seeks to equip and support diocesan wellbeing leads who are tasked with implementing the Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. This month (October) St Luke’s holds an online symposium for invited wellbeing leads, now an annual event at delegates’ request after the charity’s first symposium in 2018. St Luke’s is also expanding its provision by promoting tried and tested wellbeing resources from partner individuals and organisations they have worked with over several years in areas including trauma-informed ministry and negotiating relationships and expectations.
The massive increase in demand is putting a significant strain on resources, however. Says Dr 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 resources – and it is unsustainable without an increase in donations. We ask everyone to consider making a donation today and to make a gift in their Will so that clergy can continue to benefit in the future’.
Every gift, no matter what size, means we can continue to care for clergy wellbeing. Please give today
Why is St Luke’s work needed? Find out here