Engaging the Faith Community in Designing a Church-Based Mental Health Screening and Linkage to Care Intervention


  • Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D. University of Missouri - Kansas City, School of Medicine
  • Carole Bowe Thompson, B.S. University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine
  • Joah Williams, Ph.D. University of Missouri – Kansas City, Department of Psychology
  • Kelsey Christensen, M.A. University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine
  • Rev. Cassandra Wainwright Calvary Community Outreach Network
  • Rev. Eric Williams Calvary Community Outreach Network
  • Andrea Bradley-Ewing, M.A., M.S. Children's Mercy Kansas City, Health Services and Outcomes Research
  • Alexandria Bauer, Ph.D. Rutgers University, Center of Alcohol & Substance Abuse Use Studies
  • Jennifer Allsworth, Ph.D. University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine




mental health, African Americans, mental health screening, linkage to care, churches


African Americans are disproportionately burdened by mental health issues (e.g., stress, chronic depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder). Upon review of mental health local/state/national data, a highly-engaged faith-based Community Action Board (CAB) raised concerns about the mental health needs of African Americans and addressed mental health as a priority health area in African American Kansas City churches. African Americans tend to experience barriers to mental health services (e.g., limited access, high cost, mental health-related stigma, non-culturally tailored mental health care). African American churches have many strengths that could increase reach, acceptability feasibility, and impact of mental health interventions tailored for African Americans. The CAB conducted a health needs assessment survey (N=463; 11 churches) to identify health concerns and potential strategies to inform the design of a church-based mental health intervention. Using a faith-community-engaged approach, the CAB developed the survey and used its findings to design a religiously-tailored, multilevel mental health intervention focused on prevention, screening, and linkage to care. The needs assessment identified intervention strategies (e.g., church-based screening, stress reduction/exercise programs, pastors promoting mental health) that were: (1) rated as highly important/feasible to implement, (2) included in the intervention design, and (3) successfully implemented in African American churches by faith leaders and university students and faculty.

Author Biographies

Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., University of Missouri - Kansas City, School of Medicine

Dr. Berkley-Patton is a professor in the UMKC School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical and Health informatics. She received both her master’s degree in human development and family life, and a doctorate in developmental psychology HIV/AIDS at the University of Kansas. She joined the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2005 in a postdoctoral fellowship position founded by the National Institute of Mental Health in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Berkley-Patton received a tenure as an associate professor in the UMKC Department of Psychology, where she still remains as an adjunct. She leads the unconquered path of African American and community health research for the UMKC School of Medicine faculty. One of her noted research projects, Taking It to the Pews, was funded with a $3.2 million dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to assess HIV testing. She is the director of the UMKC Community Health Research Group, which supports collaborative community research, and provides doctoral and undergraduate training in community participatory research.

Dr. Berkley-Patton has been awarded many honors and professional memberships, including the Heartland Health Network and the National institute of Minority Health and health Disparities. She is a reviewer for both the University of Missouri Research Board and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she helps improve public health practices through translational research.

Carole Bowe Thompson, B.S., University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine

Carole Bowe Thompson is the Project Director of the Community Health Research Group at University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine. 

Joah Williams, Ph.D. , University of Missouri – Kansas City, Department of Psychology

Dr. Williams’ research focuses on psychosocial and health consequences of trauma exposure across the lifespan. In particular, he is interested in the development and evaluation of traumatic stress prevention and early intervention programs.

Kelsey Christensen, M.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine

Kelsey Christensen, M.A., is a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Candidate at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Rev. Cassandra Wainwright , Calvary Community Outreach Network

Pastor Sandy Wainwright is the Program Director of Calvary Community Outreach Network.

Rev. Eric Williams , Calvary Community Outreach Network

Rev. Eric Williams is the Founder and CEO of Calvary Community Outreach Network

Alexandria Bauer, Ph.D., Rutgers University, Center of Alcohol & Substance Abuse Use Studies

Dr. Bauer received her BA in Psychology from San Diego State University in 2013, after transferring from community college, and she earned both her master’s degree and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the Charleston Consortium in Charleston, SC, where she trained in rotations focused on trauma and cognitive-behavioral interventions. Dr. Bauer’s research interests include understanding and addressing health disparities that burden Black/African American and other racial/ethnic minority populations, particularly using community-based participatory research strategies.

Jennifer Allsworth, Ph.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine

Jenifer Allsworth, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.


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