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

Big Idea: Give Faith A Seat At The Table

Not long ago, a hospital administrator was speaking with me about an increasing sense within the medical community of the importance of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH).  SDOH are a wide range of conditions that affect peoples' health and quality of life.  Such commonly recognized conditions include economic stability, access to quality education, a safe neighborhood, access to quality healthcare and the presence of supportive relationships.  In a 2019 article in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Ichiro Kawachi argued that we should consider another potential SDOH: religion.  He writes, “in addition to sometimes encouraging healthful practices, religious involvement also promotes well-being through social connections (service attendance) and psychological coping with stress and adversity”.  Faith, it turns out, can play an important role in someone’s health.  This is not to say that faith communities don’t have the potential for wounding people as well. Sinful humans have the capacity to hurt other humans, even in communities of faith.  Further, Kawachi acknowledges that “the wide variations in religious dogma and interpretation of scripture” play a role in considering the interplay between faith and health.  My own conviction, for example, is that what is often called the “health and wealth gospel” can be harmfully disappointing to those who assume that belief in God always equals good health and a high income.  Still, Kawachi’s article and many of our experiences affirm an important truth; when discussing the health of our community, faith should have a seat at the table. 

Dave Eckert, M.Div., CPRP

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

Social Determinants of Health

To learn more about the Social Determinants of Health, check out this accessible summary offered by Healthy People 2030.


Spirituality and Mental Health Conference: Faith Based Therapy Works!

The Faith-Based Mental Health Initiative, Inc. recently held a conference bringing together Psychologists, Theologians and Individuals with lived experience to discuss the positive effect of faith on mental health. The 2022 Spirituality and Mental Health Conference featured: Dr. Lisa Miller, Columbia University, Dr. Glen Milstein, Cambridge University, Dr. Miraj Desai, Yale University and Dr. Emmanuel Lartey, Emory University.

To watch the video recording, click the button below.


Q Ideas Podcast - Episode 227 / Mental Health Practices: Dr. Curt Thompson

Even before the chaos of the last couple years, we were already facing many troubling statistics surrounding mental health. Now, with the added stress of a pandemic and various cultural tensions, mental health struggles have become a reality for even more people. In light of this, psychiatrist Curt Thompson shares a conversation with Q President Gabe Lyons with some practical tips for caring for our mental health.


Looking for a way to help those in your community?

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!


Become a Foster Parent

You can help a child make memories for a lifetime this holiday season. There are many children and teens in your community who need people like you to open your heart and give them a safe, loving place to call home. Foster parents can make a difference in a child’s life by setting a good example and providing the time, care, and attention that every child deserves.


Become a Lifesharing Provider

By becoming a Lifesharing Provider, you will have the opportunity to open your home and share your life with an adult with an intellectual disability. Your support and assistance will enrich an individual’s life by affording them the opportunity to become a fully participating member of their community and empowering them to reach for and achieve their goals and aspirations.


Questions to Ponder

  1. Where in our community can we be more intentional about giving faith a seat at the table? 
  2. How have you seen involvement in a faith community contribute to someone’s overall health decisions? 
  3. What are ways in which faith in God helps people psychologically cope with life’s stressors? 

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

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