the shape of leadership

Nearly Half of Pastors Have Struggled with Depression

Pastors of small or declining churches more at risk

Influence Magazine on May 30, 2017

While most pastors report satisfaction with their current emotional health, nearly half say they have suffered from depression at some point over the course of ministry, according to The State of Pastors report from Barna Group.

Among all senior pastors polled, 91 percent rate their overall quality of life as good or excellent; 88 feel positive about their spiritual health; and 85 percent give their emotional health high marks. Yet 46 percent have struggled with depression during their tenure.

Women pastors are more likely to report feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Barna identified several risk factors associated with depression among pastors, including the following findings:

•  Pastors who are not very satisfied with their work are significantly more likely to say depression is or has been a part of their lives compared to those who report high work satisfaction (69 percent vs. 37 percent).

•  Those who are not satisfied at their current church are more likely to report depression than those who are content at their church (54 percent vs. 40 percent).

•  Approximately half of pastors who lead churches of 250 people or fewer have experienced depression, compared to 32 percent of pastors leading larger churches.

•  Among pastors of churches with declining attendance numbers, 62 percent have experienced depression.

•  Women pastors are more likely than their male counterparts to report feelings of loneliness and isolation (31 percent of women vs. 12 percent of men) and a sense of inadequacy for their ministry or calling (23 percent of women vs. 11 percent of men).

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For more information on this topic, listen to the Influence podcasts “Mental Health and Ministry” with Dr. George O. Wood and "Emotionally Healthy Relationships" with Dr. Peter Scazzero. And read “Mental Health and the Healthy Church” and “6 Healthy Habits for Balanced Leaders.”

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