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


The Problem is Part of the Solution

For years my friend, Dan received phone calls from a man with significant mental health struggles.  Dan wasn’t offering a professional service but simply acting as a dialogue partner for a few minutes at a time.  Their conversations often centered on frustrations with the people in the man's life, namely family members and mental health professionals.  This man’s faith was extremely important to him, so much so that the subject came up in almost all his conversations.  Unfortunately, his faith was often communicated in ways that were experienced as harsh.  Therefore, those in his life labeled him as “extreme” and “obsessive” and saw his faith as a detriment to his mental health.  Such perspectives exasperated the man and led him time and again to pick up the phone and contact Dan.

To be clear, these calls weren’t due to Dan’s exceptional therapeutic skill.  Instead, he wanted to speak with Dan because, unlike others in his life, Dan didn’t see faith as the problem, but as part of the solution.  To be sure, Dan wasn’t naïve about the man’s unhelpful relational patterns or unwilling to address them.  However, when doing so, Dan didn’t dismiss the man’s faith but delved into it.  Dan explored how faith could be a resource for strengthening relationships rather than damaging them.  Dan asked how scriptures like “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19) might help diminish conflict rather than enhance it. Dan prayed with the man for God’s help during difficult conversations.  While others’ critiques made the man defensive, Dan’s questions, insights and prayers made him reflective and open to change.

Dan’s story is an important one to hear given the long line of mental health professionals who have disparaged religion.  As John Swinton observes in his work, Spirituality and Mental Healthcare, some mental health professionals have seen religion as “a universal obsessional neurosis (Freud 1959), distorted and irrational thinking (D. Ellis 1980), a regression (Group for Advancement of Psychiatry), a psychotic episode (Horton, 1974) and even temporal lobe dysfunction (Mandel 1980)”.  While clinicians don’t need to profess faith to conduct their work, they do need to consider it’s potential assets if they’re to support people for whom faith is a deep source of meaning, purpose and hope.  If they don’t, Dan’s phone is going to keep ringing off the hook.

David Eckert, Director of Intersect

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

Spiritual Tools & Resources for Practitioners

This training will provide practitioners/supporters/workers a way of navigating the faith and spirituality of those they serve within an overall context of integrated health. Particular attention will be given to the practices of spiritual assessment, spiritual support/skill building, and connecting people to external resources.

Date: March 15, 2023
Time: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Presenter: Dave Eckert, MDiv, CPRP
Location: Zoom (SW, CPRP and PCB Credits) - 2 hours


The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict

This book is an example of how faith can function as a resource for navigating conflict.  In The Peace Maker, Ken Sande presents a comprehensive and practical theology for conflict resolution designed to bring about not only a cease-fire, but also unity and harmony. Sande takes readers beyond resolving conflicts to true, life-changing reconciliation with family members, coworkers, and fellow believers. 

Looking for a way to help those in your community?

Learn more about the Multi-Faith Coalition

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. What would you say to a mental health professional who saw faith as more harmful than helpful to mental health?
  2. How do we create a culture that values faith and spirituality as resources for recovery?

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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