The Behavioral Health Initiative for Pastors (BHIP) was established in 2016 to address the stressors pastors face in their daily ministry. Three pastors from the community collaborated with Congregational Wellness staff and requested assistance to address pastors who were experiencing overwhelming demands from their parishioners/congregants relating to environmental devastations, funerals, and financial burdens. One major concern was clergy’s inability to exercise “self-care” to remain focused and balanced in providing needed compassion to the community and addressing their behavioral health concerns.
Since 2016, seven sessions have been conducted to provide self-care techniques and allow senior pastors the opportunity to express concerns and gain insight of avenues that would be beneficial for them to continue being productive in their ministries for themselves and the community they serve. Senior pastors were also able to attend two retreats which focused on healthy lifestyle choices, mindfulness, laughter, and physical activity.
As this program progresses, it will expand to behavioral health referrals for spouses and their children, self-care sessions for assistant/associate ministers, and seminars to promote Mental Health First Aid in their churches.