• The attitudes of Orthodox Jewish rabbis towards professional mental health services as related to their practice of referrals

      Slanger, Hannah Rachel; Goldmeier, John (1994)
      The purpose of this study is to assess the attitudes of American Orthodox Jewish religious leaders (rabbis) toward therapy and the mental health professions, and to determine the degree to which rabbis urge the utilization of these professionals by their congregants, via referrals. Specifically, this study evaluated demographic, attitudinal, situational, and experiential variables that would account for differences in rabbis' willingness to refer congregants. The first group of research questions dealt with potential demographic antecedents (age, birthplace, secular education) of positive attitudes toward the mental health professions and therapeutic interventions. The second dealt with situational influences, such as size and affluence of a rabbi's congregation. The third dealt with experiences which would familiarize the rabbi with mental health professionals, such as professional and personal interactions. Finally, each of these groups of variables, together with attitudes, were examined as possible predictors of referral behavior. Orthodox rabbis' preference for Orthodox mental health professionals was also a focus. Data were obtained through a questionnaire mailed to the 439 members of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) employed as congregational rabbis. Responses were received from 217 rabbis (49%). Statistical procedures utilized included frequencies, means, Pearson product moment correlation, partial correlation, and multiple regression. Primary results demonstrated that the experiences of interaction with mental health professionals were strong predictors of positive attitudes toward mental health interventions, while demographic and situational differences had little influence. Regarding referral practices, however, there were numerous significant predictors. Generally, younger rabbis with mental health related educational experience were more likely to refer their congregants, as were the rabbis of larger, more affluent congregations. In addition, rabbis with positive attitudes and those who had more interactions with professionals were more likely to refer congregants. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that the combined set of predictors accounted for substantial variance in referral practices, and that the experiential variables provided the greatest contribution. Results also showed that Orthodox rabbis prefer Orthodox mental health service providers. Limitations of the study, implications for social work practice, and recommendations for future research are presented. The study is of interest to social work practitioners whose potential clientele are members of ethnic and/or religious minorities, and who wish to achieve rapprochement with communal leaders, so as to provide for optimal access to their services.
    • Holy ground, common ground: Perspectives of Christian clergy on their mental health role

      Smith, Peter Joseph; Belcher, John R. (1999)
      Persons experiencing emotional problems, including serious mental illness, often turn to clergy as their first choice for help. Past studies show that pastors reported feeling inadequately trained to deal with the types of problems they encountered. In spite of this, pastors referred infrequently to secular mental health professionals (MHPs). This qualitative field study explored-the perspectives of clergy on their mental health role and developed "grounded theory" that addresses the clergy understanding of their role. Data were collected through ten field observations, and twenty-seven semi-structured interviews with nine informants (n = 9) from a range of Christian churches (Non affiliated Evangelical, Denominationally affiliated Evangelical, and Mainline) throughout central Maryland. The constant comparative method was used as categories and themes were identified from the data, and collapsed into working hypotheses at each of three rounds of data collection. Grounded theory was developed from the final working hypotheses. Analysis revealed that pastors' mental health activities were related to their role definition, which was in turn shaped by their religious beliefs, experience of God, experience in ministry, and expectations of help seekers. Similarities were found among all pastors regarding types of problems seen, value and limits of their role, the desire to help, and the role of trust in selecting a referral resource. Evangelical pastors differed from Mainline pastors in the use of religious language and symbols, preference for type of referral resource, and familiarity with secular MHPs. Charismatic pastors differed from other Evangelicals by the degree to which they saw mental health in religious terms, sought to import mental health technology, and had limited ties to the mental health system. These findings are significant for professional social work in the following areas. Diversity training in social work education should include a treatment of religious belief systems and their language and symbols. Direct micro practice would be enhanced by building trust with local pastors, and expanding the social work role from referral terminus to providing consultation and support for the pastor's role. On the level of macro practice, mental health outreach and education for local pastors would magnify the benefits of social work training and expertise.