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As a foundation of most cultures, with roots in persons’ early development, religion can be a source of hope as well as denigration. Some religious institutions have made attempts to help persons with mental health problems, and some mental health professionals have sought to engage religion resources. These programs have rarely been sustained. In 2008, the Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) developed a program to assess the utility of religion resources within mental health care. In response to positive feedback, MHCD appointed a director of Faith and Spiritual Wellness who facilitates community outreach to faith communities and spiritual integration training to MHCD staff. This director initiated a Clergy Outreach & Professional Engagement (COPE) conference for consumers, clergy, and clinicians. The goal was to acknowledge borders between parts of persons’ lives, and to build bridges of collaboration to facilitate care. Participants described lived examples of collaboration to improve mental wellness, including the need for a “solid welcome” from congregations. Subsequent, online surveys generated quantitative data on the usefulness of the conference to encourage and to generate ideas for interaction. Each group affirmed the utility of the conference; consumers and clinicians found the conference more useful than clergy. Qualitative assessment confirmed that across culture differences, participants found common language to demonstrate that persons of different traditions can provide care inclusive of religious resources. This assessment concludes with recommendations for future collaboration, led by consumer input, to expand recovery networks.


This article was originally published in the American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, available at



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