Date of Conferral





Human Services


Dorothy Scotten


The use of faith-based organizations (FBO) for health promotion in vulnerable communities has the potential to improve mental health outcomes by providing resources to community members. The purpose of this generic qualitative study was to explore how faith leaders perceived their role in mental health promotion as a resource to improve access to mental health care in impoverished communities. The health belief model and theory of planned behavior were used as the conceptual framework. Purposeful and snowball sampling was used to recruit eight faith leaders who led a FBO and resided in Cumberland County, NJ. Data were collected using semistructured interviews. The data were analyzed using the six steps of thematic analysis: familiarize, code, generate, review, define and name, and report. Seven main themes were identified. Faith leaders identified poverty as a contributor to mental health problems and a factor to limited resources and also indicated that they had a positive role in mental health promotion as leader and influencer. They also indicated they needed to do more with mental health promotion because it was their responsibility to address the mind, body, and spirit of individuals. A key finding was that participants engaged in mental health promotion activities without realization or conceptualization of what they were doing. It is recommended that faith leaders are taught the conceptualization of mental health promotion to implement strategies more effectively. The findings may be used by service providers and faith leaders to establish collaborative relationships as a tool to improve mental health promotion in FBOs to improve mental wellness and resource linkage in underserved and vulnerable communities.