SOUTH BOUND BROOK, N.J. – In its Spring 2021 Consistory Circular, the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. – Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel (president of the Consistory) – announced the initiative of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America for a Mental Health Needs Assessment Survey, which was launched on April 7 (www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/2021/the-assembly-of-bishops-launches-mental-health-needs-assessment-survey).
The hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the U.S.A., the announcement underscored, “are aware of the many pastoral issues we face regarding mental health among the faithful. These issues are complex and challenging and during the pandemic have increased significantly. It is well known among mental health professionals that many people of faith approach their parish priest, before their physician or therapist, with mental health struggles.”
The Mental Health Task Force of the Assembly of Bishops has completed a Directory of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals as a first resource to immediately meet this urgent need. It is hoped that this directory is shared through social media, parish websites, and encourages Orthodox Christian mental health professionals to apply to be listed.
In an effort to further understand and respond to the specific mental health needs of clergy and faithful, a comprehensive anonymous survey is being conducted. The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and both clergy and faithful age 18 and older are asked to complete the survey by June 15. All faithful are invited to complete the survey, regardless of their experience with mental health or their level of engagement with the Church. Parishes are encouraged to print copies of the survey for parishioners who are not comfortable using a computer. Guidelines are provided on the aforementioned survey page on the Assembly of Bishops website.
Data collected from the survey will be analyzed by the Task Force to create mental health related resources that reflect Orthodox praxis and theological perspective.
To aid this work, participants are asked to encourage at least 50 parishioners from each parish to complete the survey; promote the survey across all communication platforms used by each parish (promotional icons for social media and bulletin inserts are available at www.assemblyofbishops.org/mental-health); and promote the Directory of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals, and encourage Orthodox providers to join the directory (www.assemblyofbishops.org/directories/mental-health).