Is Mental Health Disclosure Safe for Pastors?

Thank you for allowing me to be open with you...

I am blessed. The path I have taken since going public with my mental health diagnosis has been surprising and meaningful. Scripture and the gospel have taken on new meaning, my passion for ministry has been energized, and pastoral care settings have gained deeper significance. A variety of people of all ages and backgrounds have contacted me with stories of heartbreak, healing, and perseverance relating to their experiences with mental health diagnoses. However, I wish I could tell you that it has all been roses. There is still a lot of work to do.

Some pastors have lost everything...

My foremost concern lies with my clergy colleagues who have faced vocational challenges and hardships due to the stigma surrounding mental health. Imagine having your income, health insurance, pension, dignity, and overall sense of security all at risk simply because your mind works differently. This is the reality for clergy with mental health conditions and neurodivergence. In corporate, union, medical, and bureaucratic vocations, there is often an established human resources framework for people like me to rely on. Pastors face inconsistent conditions depending on what congregation they are called to. I am grateful that my internship site, first call, and current congregation were supportive environments that understood the importance of good mental health for clergy.

Here is what I have experienced.

The three biggest issues I have uncovered that challenge clergy are the following. First, there is a great need for education for our churches, congregational councils, synods, and national church. If mental health diagnoses and neurodivergence are more widely understood, then I am certain affected clergy would be safer. Second, normalizing self-care and boundaries for clergy must continue. During the pandemic, the discussion of clergy burnout was amplified, and we must keep talking about it. Finally, professional help from psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, and counselors must be seen as a vital companion to spiritual care and counseling. In Evangelical media, in our congregations, and in my discussions with random Christians, I still encounter a minority opinion that professional intervention is not as important as spiritual intervention. In my life, they are both necessary; however, medical intervention is the foundation of my recovery.

How do other professionals discuss mental health?

I have prepared a comprehensive exploration of the complexities involved in disclosing a mental health diagnosis at work. In the video below, I’ve curated seven anonymous comments from various online communities I participate in. These comments will shed light on what it’s like to openly discuss bipolar disorder in the workplace. My goal with this video is to encourage you to ask questions about disclosing mental health diagnoses professionally. You can post questions on YouTube, this blog, or send them via email. I look forward to hearing from you!

VIDEO: Should I Share My Mental Health Diagnosis at Work?

Make sure to comment and ask questions about this video on this blog, directly to me via email or in the Youtube comments!

Seth Perry

Seth Perry

(he/him/his) Pastor- Mental Health Recovery Educator- Blogger


2 Responses

  1. Wow! This is such an important topic. Pastor Seth, your attached video is excellent. Also, I watched three of the suggested YouTube videos and found them to be helpful as well. I am looking forward to visiting your congregation on July 28th!

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A mental health diagnosis can significantly impact how colleagues and employers perceive an individual. This article explores the unique challenges pastors face when they disclose their mental health diagnoses.