A Conversation for Those Standing at the Intersection of Faith and Mental Health


Don't Stop Believing

An article in The Guardian revealed new research showing that “England and Wales are now minority Christian countries for the first time since census data collection began, with less than half the population describing themselves as Christian, and a big increase in the proportion of people saying they have no religion.”  This rise of “the nones” (those who identify as having no religion) is something occuring across the west, as research in the U.S. has also shown.  Such cultural shifts raise an important question for those standing at the intersection of faith and mental health.  Namely, should we let go of the belief that faith is a resource for those with mental illness if rising numbers report to have no faith?  Well, as the Journey song goes, Don’t Stop Believing. There are least three reasons why faith and mental health can be important friends even amid rising secularism.  First, the rising number of nones (who are still less than those identifying as religious) are not mainly coming from those who are religiously observant but from “nominal” believers.  A Pew Research Study in 2015 revealed that there is a “modest drop in overall rates of belief and practice, but religiously affiliated Americans are as observant as before”.  Thus, there are many people for whom faith remains a deep source of mental wellness.  Second, even if some declare themselves non-religious, this doesn’t mean they are non-spiritual.  As John Swinton states in his book Spirituality and Mental Health Care, “whilst people may be becoming less religious, it would be a mistake to assume from that that they are necessarily becoming less spiritual, or that they are no longer searching for a sense of transcendance and spiritual fulfillment.” To be human is to be spiritual in that all humans must navigate matters of meaning, purpose and hope.  If mental health practitioners ignore such issues, they will do so to the detriment of those they serve, all of whom have spiritual needs.  Finally, while faith communities are by no means the only form of community, they remain a signficant resource for those with mental illness.  Just as there are rising numbers of nones, so there are rising numbers of those identifying as lonely.  A 2021 report out of Harvard showed that “36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel ‘serious loneliness”’.  Isolation has long been seen as a barrier to mental wellness.  Therefore, building bridges between faith communities and service providers can be an important way to alleviate this escalating loneliness.  With all this in mind, if the rise of nones leads to a greater thoughtfulness in how practicioners assess spiritual needs, we will have benefited as a field from this research.  If however, it leads practitioners to ignore assessing spiritual needs, then perhaps we aren’t spending enough time listening to Journey.

David Eckert, Director of Intersect

Recommended Resources
Below are resources for the purpose of wellness, education, and service.

Adult Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is a course that teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.

January 21, 2023 from 9:00AM - 5:00PM
Trinity Lutheran Church
1000 West Main Street, Lansdale, PA 19446


How to Disagree: The Virtues and Limits of Intellectual Charity | Harvard Law School

With the rise of those with no religious identification, there is a greater diversity of worldviews within our communities.  If we are going to collaborate for the common good across sectors (faith communities, service providers, government) we will need to learn the skills of disagreeing well. 

On April 25, 2022 Steven Harris (Georgetown University), Diana Hess (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Randall Kennedy (Harvard Law School) discussed the virtues and limits of intellectual charity.


Spirituality and Mental Health Care: Rediscovering a ‘Forgotten’ Dimension

A person's sense of spirituality informs his or her awareness of self and of the society around them and is intrinsic to their mental well-being. In this balanced and thoughtful book John Swinton explores the connections between mental health or illness and spirituality and draws on these to provide practical guidance for people working in the mental health field. He analyses a range of models of mental health care provision that will enable practitioners to increase their awareness of aspects of spirituality in their caring strategies.

Looking for a way to help those in your community?

Intersect is Expanding!

Our Intersect Network at Access Services supports people at the intersection of faith and mental health. One way we do this is through fostering collaboration between human service providers and faith communities. Out of a desire to expand these collaborative efforts, the Montgomery County Multi-Faith Coalition has now become part of Intersect. Led by a team of volunteers representing faith communities, human services organizations, and Montgomery County government, it is our shared goal to strengthen our collective efforts to improve the overall health of our region.

Visit our webpage to learn about how you can get involved.

Intersect: Community Needs Facebook Group

This Facebook group functions as a care portal for faith communities who are looking to meet local needs in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. We will post needs specific to the individuals supported by Access Services. These may include needs for relational support, material resources, and/or monetary donations. We encourage you to share this page with your family and friends. While we started this page to provide concrete service opportunities to local faith communities, we encourage any community members who are interested in giving back to join!

Questions to Ponder

  1. How do you believe mental health professionals should respond to the rising numbers of those with no religious affiliation?
  2. How can faith communities reach out to those with mental health struggles who say they have no religious affiliation?

Do you have something to contribute or a question to ask?

Intersect is brought to you by:


Access Services
500 W Office Center Drive, Suite 100  | Fort Washington, Pennsylvania 19034
215-540-2150, x1286    deckert@accessservices.org

Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

Unsubscribe or Manage Your Preferences