The impact of the faith-based and community initiative on rural mental health care.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
K. Jay Poole, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: President George W. Bush established the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in 2001 and eventually, by executive order, set a precedent for federal agencies to revise their policies to allow faith-based organizations to apply for federal grants. This initiative made over three billion dollars available to organizations that had heretofore been prohibited from accessing public funds due to their religious affiliation. As the initiative has developed, there seems to be a predominance of evangelical and fundamentalist Christian organizations involved in the projects that public funds support including services to those with mental illness. Evangelical and fundamental Christian ideology includes strong beliefs that people?s problems are often the result of moral failure and the solution to many of life?s problems lies in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Viewing mental illness as moral failure has damaging implications for people with mental illness and for the public?s understanding of mental illness. Additionally, the faith-based initiative is grounded in the principles of privatization, thus shifting services to those with mental illness into the private sector. As services are privatized, the fragile system of public mental health care in rural areas is often diminished or eliminated. Research shows that mental health professionals have a long history of practicing largely in urban areas, thus reducing the likelihood that private providers will serve rural areas. If, through the faith-based initiative, care for the mentally ill in rural areas is left to religion-based organizations, many people who have very complex biologically and environmentally based disorders may be left with limited, non-existent, or potentially harmful care. This paper examines some of the complex questions and issues raised by the faith-based and community initiative as related to mental health care.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, mental health care, rural communities, faith-based initiatives, christian ideology, mental illness

Email this document to