Posted: January 24, 2022
Let's Talk Interactive (LTI), a leader in customizable telehealth solutions and provider of HIPAA-compliant telehealth software and hardware solutions, is supporting Pastor Appreciation Month with continued initiatives to assist clergy at this challenging time.
"Pastors are just like us: friends, family, business people, counselors and educators. Even with their spiritual purpose within the community, they need the same support and encouragement that the rest of us do to do their job effectively," said Arthur Cooksey, founder, CEO and chairman of LTI. “From a simple ‘thank you’ to an encouraging message, showing appreciation for their work goes a long way and provides a source of strength and inspiration.”
Pastors are not immune from stress, depression and suicidal thoughts. According to a CDC report, the country’s suicide rate has reached a 50-year high and few pastors receive the regular affirmation and encouragement that they need. In a 2020 Gallup poll, only 37% of Americans rate the clergy highly for their honesty and ethics, the lowest rating in the 40 years that Gallup has asked the question. Those factors, compounded with the polarization of American politics and the continued threat of COVID-19, have placed tremendous stress on pastors and religious leaders.
Places of worship continue to play a key role in supporting communities, especially those in rural areas without access to mental health support. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, churches, temples, mosques and faith communities reach 70% of the American population each month. In the U.S., clergy outnumber psychiatrists by nearly 10 to one and are more equitably distributed geographically than health professionals. LTI, along with Dr. Ben Graham, is working to recognize pastors and increase mental health awareness in the church through initiatives like the “Seven Principles of Compassion in Action,” developed by HHS in collaboration with LTI and more than 75 faith and community leaders to get mental health acceptance in the faith community
LTI also is poised to help members of the clergy. The company’s mission is to bring access to quality healthcare to all and to bring awareness to the growing need for support for people experiencing mental health issues. LTI’s telehealth and telemedicine solutions can help people connect to referrals with all kinds of healthcare providers.
Dr. Ben Graham is the senior pastor at Music City Baptist Church in Mount Juliet, Tenn. and a member of the board of directors of LTI. He has worked closely with the company to raise awareness and grow support for the community of religious leaders experiencing mental health issues.
"We want to inform pastors and other religious leaders that mental health issues affect us all and that it’s not only okay to seek help, but absolutely critical," said Graham. “It’s important for pastors to be conscious of their mental health and ensure that they’re taking care of themselves on that front. Having that first-hand experience to understand and identify these struggles and seek help goes a long way in providing help for others within their community who face similar mental health challenges.”
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