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Caring for the carers

13 May 2016

Clergy cannot help others with mental-health problems at the cost of their own well-being, but help is at hand

THE charity St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy offers an ongoing programme of stress consultations and anti-stress strategies. A survey it commissioned three years ago showed that more than one in ten clergy describe themselves as struggling, or barely coping.

More than half of the clergy polled (53 per cent) had received no training in understanding and managing stress in ministry at any point in their training or ministerial life; and a significant minority (about eight per cent) indicated that their level of stress was so serious that they “very frequently” considered giving up their position in the Church.

The charity was set up after the collapse of St Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy, which had been founded in 1892. Like its predecessor, the new charity retains the services of a team of “honorary” consultants who give their time and expertise free of charge; unlike the earlier model, however, the emphasis is on pre-emptive care, and particularly on psychological well-being.

From resilience-training workshops to reflective-practice groups, the focus is on developing a work/life balance, healthy self-awareness, enabling boundary-setting, and reducing stress — reflecting recognised good practice in secular organisations.

Individual psychological (as well as physical) health care is also available, both to clergy and their families. For more information, visit http://stlukeshealthcare.org.uk/.

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