Help-seeking from clergy and spiritual counselors among veterans with depression and PTSD in primary care

J Relig Health. 2013 Sep;52(3):707-18. doi: 10.1007/s10943-012-9671-0.

Abstract

Little is known about the prevalence or predictors of seeking help for depression and PTSD from spiritual counselors and clergy. We describe openness to and actual help-seeking from spiritual counselors among primary care patients with depression. We screened consecutive VA primary care patients for depression; 761 Veterans with probable major depression participated in telephone surveys (at baseline, 7 months, and 18 months). Participants were asked about (1) openness to seeking help for emotional problems from spiritual counselors/clergy and (2) actual contact with spiritual counselors/clergy in the past 6 months. At baseline, almost half of the participants, 359 (47.2%), endorsed being "very" or "somewhat likely" to seek help for emotional problems from spiritual counselors; 498 (65.4%) were open to a primary care provider, 486 (63.9%) to a psychiatrist, and 409 (66.5%) to another type of mental health provider. Ninety-one participants (12%) reported actual spiritual counselor/clergy consultation. Ninety-five (10.3%) participants reported that their VA providers had recently asked them about spiritual support; the majority of these found this discussion helpful. Participants with current PTSD symptoms, and those with a mental health visit in the past 6 months, were more likely to report openness to and actual help-seeking from clergy. Veterans with depression and PTSD are amenable to receiving help from spiritual counselors/clergy and other providers. Integration of spiritual counselors/clergy into care teams may be helpful to Veterans with PTSD. Training of such providers to address PTSD specifically may also be desirable.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Clergy*
  • Comorbidity
  • Counseling*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Spiritual Therapies*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Veterans / psychology*