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CIM’s Research and Results for Mental Health and the African American Church relationship with the African Americans and African American Gender and Sexual Minorities


Two dozen African American Church leaders and influential parishioners gathered at Yoshi’s in Oakland, California to hear the results of what was learned from their participation in the Kaiser Permanente Study on Mental Health and the African American (AA) and African American Gender and Sexual Minorities (AA GSM). The major learnings are:


  • AA & AA GSM have many organizations, both grassroots and institutional, that already exist to educate and provide services related to mental health and spirituality
  • AA & AA GSM trust faith-based institutions for support, guidance, and recommendations for help.
  • AA & AA GSM would welcome closer collaboration and referral between mental health providers and their faith leaders
  • AA & AA GSM perceive Mental Health services as complex and hard to access
  • Stigma and distrust of mental health systems and providers create a barrier to help seeking among AA & AA GSM


From these learnings, the Center for Innovation in Ministry proposed the creation of the SMART group to help address these issues. At least three members of each church would receive the following:


  • Training on enhanced tech tools
  • Training on basic mental health access
  • Training on proper referrals
  • Receive three special experiences with providers for building trust & enhancing collaboration
  • Receive help of a social worker to help them through the process
  • Continuation of Online Mental Health and Spirituality Course to continue and become enhanced by a congregational engagement study.


This was well received; Kaiser Permanente decided to award us another grant of $90,000 to continue to test effectiveness of proposed interventions/training. The event began and ended with Rev. Dr. Mark Wilson and Rev. Debra Lax leading a litany for the Black Church and Mental Health that was written by Floyd Thompkins, Director of Center for Innovation in Ministry. The Litany for Libation Meeting for Mental Health is downloadable here and on the This We Affirm site.



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