Accepted Manuscript (AM) citation: Fung, Wai Lun Alan, Meria Mirham, Tom Okamoto, Victor A. Shepherd. “Principles and Practice in Educating Christians About Mental Health: A Primer,” In Christianity and Psychiatry, edited by J.R. Peteet, H.S. Moffic, A. Hankir and H.G. Koenig, pages 231-247. Basel, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2021.
There is a growing recognition of the presence and prevalence of mental health issues in Christian communities, and their impacts on affected individuals, families, and congregations. This has encouraged collaborations and partnerships between mental health professionals and faith communities, including mental health education for faith communities by mental health professionals. In this chapter, Christian clergy and psychiatrists have outlined rationales, guiding principles, and practical examples of mental health education in diverse settings. Psychiatrists can educate the public by repurposing their current clinical skills and expertise. Office skills establishing the therapeutic relationship and educating patients to deeper levels of understanding can be translated for use within a psychiatric education event. Educational and sociological concepts of epistemic “levelism” and “contextualization” can be understood within the clinical model and can be reinterpreted toward teaching. The psychoanalytic, theological, and sociological concepts of intersubjectivity and “third” process can help translate psychotherapeutic concepts for Christian audiences. Examples of promoting spiritual integration while educating the Christian public are discussed. Useful resources (especially those available free of charge) for such mental health educational endeavors are highlighted. The issues of cultural sensitivity and competency, training programs, as well as ethical considerations in conducting such endeavors are also discussed. The ultimate goal of the authors is to empower readers to embark on their own mental health educational endeavors.
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