Press Release – November 2, 2015

Houston, TX – The Hope and Healing Center & Institute (HHCI) has received a grant of $86,300 from the John S. Dunn Foundation to support the development and initial implementation of a clergy training program on mental and behavioral health over the next year.

“Individuals in psychological distress are more likely to contact a clergy member before a mental health provider. Unfortunately, a majority of clergy report that they feel unprepared to help those with mental health problems. The hope of this project is to equip clergy and lay ministers to be a true front door to the mental health care system,” said Matthew Stanford, PhD, CEO, Hope and Healing Center & Institute.

The goal of the program is to provide clergy and lay ministers with the knowledge and resources needed to effectively serve their congregants and their communities in the area of mental health. Providing clergy with the tools necessary to recognize and respond to individuals showing signs of mental illness positions them to be effective mental health gatekeepers. The hope is that this will result in more referrals to mental health care professionals and greater support for the afflicted individuals and their families.

The HHCI’s program will focus on the development of video training modules and a supplemental website to broadly disseminate the program to clergy. The video modules scheduled for the first year will include; Mental illness and the Faith Community, Depressive Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, and Anxiety Disorders.

In 2013, the Dunn Foundation awarded an initial pilot grant to HHCI for partial support for the clergy training program.

Dick Rogers, President of the Dunn Foundation, said “This is a remarkable opportunity for the Hope and Healing Center & Institute to move forward on this innovative program to train ministers and lay people regarding mental health.   We are proud to be a part of this effort.”



The Hope and Healing Center (HHC) & Institute (HHI) share a common vision of “transforming lives, restoring hope.” While intimately associated, the Center and the Institute (HHCI) serve different roles in pursuit of this vision.

HHI is the research and resource development partner of the Hope and Healing Center (HHC). The Institute creates new programs and resources and the Center offers those resources, as well as, programs developed elsewhere, to the community at large.

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Julia Abbott-Koivumaa