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416 | Cultivating Inclusion: Reversing the Impact of Mental Illness on Church Attendance

Friday 9/15 2:15 – 3:30 PM, Psychiatry, Behavioral Medicine, and Collaborative Care, Workshop Tracks


Stephen Grcevich, M.D.



Approved For CE

Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU




Research has shown that families of children and adolescents with mental health conditions are less likely to attend church services than unaffected families. Depression is associated with a 73% reduction in family worship service attendance. In contrast, disruptive behavior disorders, anxiety disorders, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are associated with 55%, 45%, and 19% reductions, respectively. Weekly church attendance among adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression is less than half that reported in the general population. From a Christian perspective, church engagement represents a “major life activity,” and mental impairments limiting attendance are indicative of significant disability. The presenter will utilize the lens of a cultural model of disability, which incorporates attributes associated with common mental health conditions that often clash with expectations of leaders and membership regarding behavior and social interaction when the Church gathers for worship, fellowship, education, or service. In this workshop, licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders will learn how Christian clinicians are uniquely positioned to address church participation as a treatment goal for willing Christian clients and advocate within their congregations to implement effective mental health outreach and inclusion strategies.

Learning Objectives

1. Analyze available research examining the impacts of mental illness on individual and family church attendance
2. Apply a cultural model of disability in identifying potential barriers to church attendance and engagement among willing Christian clients presenting for counseling or psychiatric care
3. Discuss effective mental health inclusion strategies and acquire the tools to advocate for mental health outreach and inclusion with leaders of the congregations they attend
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