The chances of becoming disabled are probably greater than clergy realize. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 3-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.
The executive director Pension, Inc. for the Virginia Conference of the UMC stated the following in a June 22, 2006 UM News article.
The clergy population as a whole consumes a tremendous amount of mental health benefits. The health insurance industry has walked away from clergy because of that. They say ‘we can’t handle you any more. You’re too expensive.
According to A collaboration for clergy health and wellness. by Bethann Witcher Cottrell, PhD. The physical and mental health of Clergy in North America has reached a crisis point.
During the time of the previous generation of United Methodist clergy, we were in the top five healthiest profession in the US. This generation of UM clergy are now in the bottom five least healthy. For example, UM clergy are 20% heavier than the general population.
Also, in a large 2001 Duke Divinity School study, 76 percent of the clergy were found to be overweight or obese. Ten percent were found to be clinically depressed and forty percent depressed some of the time or worn out most of the time.HealthFlex, a managed-care health plan offered by the UMC's General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, reports that clergy are overweight, have high blood pressure and stress and depression levels higher than the general population.
"Mental health problems including chemical dependency are the leading cause of disability in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America health plan, accounting for one-third of the 300 rosterd [ministers on disability]." Despite studies suggesting a stable rate of depression in the general population, the ELCA health plan shows more clinic visits and prescriptions to treat depression.
The "Ministerial Health and Wellness 2002" study, conducted by the Division for Ministry and Board of Pensions, found that during a one-year period, 16 percent of male clergy and 24 percent of female clergy suffered from depression compared to 6 percent of U.S. men and 12 percent of U.S. women.
A September 28, 1999 article, “Wounded Healers” wrote about Southern Baptist Clergy. It reported that, “Many conservative Christians consider depression to be evidence that a person is "not right with God." Yet an estimated one third of the staff and clergy of the 62,000 Southern Baptist churches suffer from depression because their jobs are so demanding. Their problems have historically been hidden or ignored by their denomination but that is now changing. The Southern Baptist Convention created an outreach program to help these troubled pastors.”
An article from the October 30, 2000 of the Charisma Online News Service said that many pastors carry the secret burden of depression.
There is help for depressed clergy such as the nondenominational Davidson [N.C.] Clergy Center.
The summer 2006 edition of the Enrichment Journal carried very good articles about two pastor’s journey out of depression.
See more @ the Depression page.