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Community Mental Health: The Role of Church and Temple by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr., (Ed.)


Howard J. Clinebell, Jr., is retired professor of Pastoral Counseling, School of Theology at Claremont, California. Published by Abingdon Press, New York, Nashville, 1970. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


Foreword by Dr. Stanley Yolles


When the Community Mental Health Centers Act was adopted in 1963, it provided Federal support for the development of a national program of comprehensive mental health services based in local communities.

The statute was adopted in response to public demand for adequate treatment of the mentally ill. Additionally, for the first time, it established as a matter of public policy the need to provide a wide range of mental health services to prevent mental illness and to improve the mental health of the American people.

From its inception, the community mental health services program has recognized the importance of the churches and members of the clergy in meeting the mental health needs of the people.

In 1961, when the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health published their final report Action for Mental Health, the survey indicated that 42 percent of the persons who encounter mental or emotional distress seek out the assistance of a clergyman as the first person to whom they turn for help.

Since that time, community mental health centers have been organized in each of the fifty states, and their staffs have learned that members of each community come to them for help and guidance in a wide variety of living situations in addition to requests for treatment of mental illness.

Mental health professionals and other supporting personnel are learning to extend their helping abilities through consultation with all manner of persons who shape community attitudes and events. As a matter of fact, the use of techniques of consultation has become a major concern of all community mental health services personnel, as communities search for effective means to collaborate in meeting their problems.

In itself, consultation is not a new profession, but a means of communication. Consultation may well become the most effective avenue through which the gatekeepers of the community can help to reverse the procedures of confrontation and violent dissent.

In the belief that the clergy, with mental health professionals can make a significant contribution toward solving the special mental health problems of communities, the National Institute of Mental Health is cooperating with the National Council of Churches in an effort to discuss collaborative roles in the area of community mental health.

A work such as this volume, edited by Dr. Clinebell, provides information and opinion on the development of the community mental health program, expressed by men and women who have been closely associated with that development. In so doing, this book may provide an impetus to those community residents who are concerned with the improvement of modern community life.


STANLEY F. YOLLES, MD., Director
National Institute of Mental Health,
1964-1970

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