The Center for Innovation in Ministry at San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) announced the launch of Project Trust, an exploratory initiative aiming to help bridge the faith community with mental health care providers. Kaiser Permanente Northern California is supporting the program through a grant provided to the Alexander Montgomery Foundation.

“Trust is a major problem in the under-served populations that have suffered historical harms,” said Rev. Floyd Thompkins, Director of the Center for Innovation in Ministry at SFTS Thompkins. “We looked at African American, Latino, LGBTQ, and Japanese-American communities, and asked ‘Who are the brokers of trust?’ They are pastors and religious people, and also spiritual leaders—people we know and can work with to facilitate a conversation and a process that bridges trust.”

Thompkins is the principle author of the program and the project manager. He is joined by principle team leaders Dr. Peter Goldblum, Professor and Co-Director at the Center for LGBTQ Evidence-based Applied Research at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology at Palo Alto University; and Rev. Dr. D. Mark Wilson, Assistant Professor of Congregational Leadership at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. The project evaluator is Dr. Amanda Houston-Hamilton, Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.

“This investment is part of our overall commitment to improving mental health in our communities,” said Yener Balan, MD, FAPA, executive director of Behavioral Health in Kaiser Permanente in northern California. “This investment in Project Trust is the kind of support that meets people where they’re at, so they can truly heal and lead healthy lives.”

Project Trust will work to address the central challenge of stigma and distrust of mental healthcare in communities that often lack resources to these services by first conducting research to more fully understand the barriers unique to underserved communities. The Oakland- and San Francisco-based pilot will first focus on African American faith communities in San Francisco and Oakland, including LGBTQ. The research will inform plans and activities for effectively engaging mental health professionals and pastoral care practitioners, including.

• Creating a prototype and procedural manual that supports the development of a training model for pastoral and mental health care by individuals with histories of cultural trauma.
• Creating a prototype of a Trust Network, consisting of community activists, pastoral care providers, and mental health professionals who have training and expertise in collaborative, culturally sensitive care.
• Creating a prototype of a searchable database that can be used by individuals in the network to identity resources that aid collaboration.

“Kaiser really wants to take what Project Trust learns to share it with their own care providers and the larger health industry,” said Thompkins. “Their integrated approach and commitment makes them a great partner in our communities. We’re grateful that they understand that Project Trust is a conversation, not a proclamation about mental health.”

Project Trust is currently reaching out to pastors, spiritual leaders, practitioners, and agencies in Oakland and San Francisco interested in participating in the program. Those interested can contact Rev. Thompkins directly at fthompkins@sfts.edu or 415-451-2800 for information on the pilot.

San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS), a leading Christian graduate theological school, has prepared students from around the world for careers in ministry and social justice for more than 150 years. Located in Marin County, California, SFTS offers doctoral, masters, certificate, and diploma programs for nonprofit and for-profit professionals. SFTS is a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union, the largest and most diverse partnership of seminaries and theological graduate schools in the United States. For more information, visit sfts.edu.

The Center for Innovation in Ministry at SFTS is a an incubator for community engagement collaborative programs addressing pervasive spiritual, social and economic issues by using dialogue and action. From addressing police brutality to fostering LGBTQ inclusion, the Center partners with multi-denominational congregations, educational organizations, and other community groups seeking to foster acceptance and understanding. People of goodwill everywhere can engage through partnerships, online courses, on- and off-campus seminars, and various social media platforms to find the knowledge and solutions to help their communities thrive.

Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Grants Program
Kaiser Permanente’s community involvement uniquely pairs grant funding with 65 years of clinical expertise, medical research, and volunteerism to support prevention-focused, evidence-based programs that are expanding access to care and creating healthy environments. Kaiser Permanente recently awarded Alexander Montgomery Foundation a $90,000.00 grant that will help more people in this community get access to the resources they need to lead a healthy life. For more information about Kaiser Permanente’s work in the community, visit www.kp.org/communitybenefit/ncal.

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