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Across all faith groups, clergy members are often called upon to provide support for parishioners, as well as the general public, who are experiencing spiritual, mental and emotional issues. But recent highly publicized resignations, and reports of distress and burnout among pastors and faith leaders, have raised concerns about the mental and emotional health of those who serve in ministry.

A new study led by AdventHealth University, in conjunction with Altamonte Springs-based AdventHealth, one of the nation’s largest faith-based health systems, aims to better understand the health and well-being of clergy. The study is currently underway.

“Inside and outside places of worship, faith leaders play a significant role in the lives of so many people, whether as a shoulder to cry on or a source of inspiration,” said Orlando Jay Perez, vice president of institutional ministries for AdventHealth. “It is also important that their mental, spiritual and emotional needs are addressed, and we hope this study brings more understanding of those needs.”

The research study is open to clergy and faith leaders across the state of Florida, where AdventHealth has 30 hospitals, including congregational and ministry leaders representing all faith groups and religious contexts. The survey consists of questions about the respondents’ social support and occupational distress as well as their emotional and spiritual health.

Clergy interested in learning more and participating in the research study can do so confidentially by visiting https://clergywholenessstudy.wordpress.com. Clergy can take the survey online through the end of February.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. NAMI also notes that 43 percent of adults with mental illness received treatment in 2018.

“Conditions of mental and emotional despair are on the rise and touch so many people,” said Martin Shaw, lead researcher for the study. “While clergy is a somewhat understudied group, it is critical that we gain greater insight about their mental and emotional well-being and ways to mitigate issues where present. Our ultimate goal is to better understand how best to care for and support our clergy and the communities they serve.”

AdventHealth University is a regionally accredited, Seventh-day Adventist institution that specializes in health care education in a faith-affirming environment. AHU is a leader in health care education, transforming the science and practice of whole-person care and developing professionals with uncommon compassion.

AdventHealth, which has 50 hospitals across nine states and provides chaplaincy services at each of those facilities, is the corporate sponsor of the university.