Year-Round Mental Health Church Worker Care3 min read

The month of May is publicized as Mental Health Awareness Month when everyone seems to have advice on this topic. But what about the rest of the year?

My sister in Christ, fellow staff member, and our Michigan District Mental Health Case Manager, Deaconess Christie Hansard, RN, BSN shares that we know there will be times of trouble other than during a month of mental health observance. Psalm 9:9–10 tells us that, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.”

Our troubles may be physical, mental, or even spiritual. When we consider whole-person health, it includes our metal health. Psalm 73:26 notes, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” When we become out of balance in our health, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual, we might need to reach out for help.

In the Michigan District, the Commission for Church Worker Care (CCWC) has set up resources for just such a need. The Michigan District offers a confidential process for church workers and their families to receive guidance when they are going through a difficult time. Deac. Hansard assists individuals in making informed decisions about mental and emotional health. Insurance plans often cover such services, but if not, the District is prepared to offer financial assistance for ordained and commissioned church workers and their family members.

If a church worker or their family member needs counseling, contact Deaconess Hansard at 734.845.2972 or She will gather some basic information and connect you with a counselor in your area.

These counselors are approved through a process, including verification that they are licensed and have the appropriate liability insurance. The approval process begins with a conversation to see if they agree with our theological perspective, hear about their integration of theology and good clinical practice, discover their specialties, and much more. Many of these counselors are Lutherans themselves.

The CCWC is always looking for more counselors to serve in this role. Currently, we especially need more in the Northern part of the Lower Peninsula and in the Upper Peninsula. The vision is to build a list of state-wide counselors to be an ongoing resource for our church workers and their families. The goal of the Michigan District is to have approved counselors in every area of the state as well as virtual counseling to provide even more access. If you are a counselor or know of one, please contact Dcs. Hansard with contact information.

Scripture gives us the image that, as the leaders in Christ’s Church are the healthiest they can be, then their ministry and mission of love toward others will be the healthiest it can be—as the Head goes, so goes the Body (1 Timothy 3, 1 Corinthians 12, 15).

Please join us in praying for all our wonderful church workers and their families.

Photo © Nordwood Themes/Unsplash

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About the Author

Rev. John Rathje (LPC, NCC, SPM) serves as Dean of Students at Concordia University Ann Arbor and as the Michigan District Mental Health Support Coordinator.

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