Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Methodist Healthcare Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network

Name of Innovative Program: 
Pastoral Pathway
Sponsoring Organization
Methodist Healthcare Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Donna Tosches, LCSW, CEAP
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
The mission of the Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network (LWN) is to create and support a healing community which connects and integrates resources to assist people to successfully navigate depression, anxiety, stress and other life challenges. Recognizing the vital importance of meeting people where they seek guidance, the LWN links the resources of MLH’s primary care physicians, the Mid South community mental health providers, business and congregational leaders. Since nearly half of Americans seeking help for mental health issues turn first to their clergy, LWN developed the Pastoral Pathway to equip pastors and congregational leaders to be excellent navigators for those with mental health issues. By leveraging existing relationships with over 400 Congregational Health Network pastors and other MLH faith partners; the LWN team facilitates brief, targeted face-to-face trainings with clergy. By doing this, the Pastoral Pathway seeks to accomplish three goals:
  1. Increase faith leaders’ knowledge of mental health issues and suicide risk.
  2. Increase awareness of and intention to use the LWN as a resource for those who may be at risk of mental health problems and/or suicide.
  3. Promote continued dialogue of mental health issues between faith leaders and congregations to decrease stigma and promote treatment.
Creativity and Innovation: 
  • Drawing on broad community support (primary care physicians, behavioral healthcare, business, and faith organizations)
  • Link with established network of faith leaders through the MLH Congregational Health Network and local Conferences of the United Methodist Church to leverage their relationships of trust with congregants who may be in need of mental health care
  • Understanding the Mid-South as a strong community of faith; this initiative partners with religious leaders of various denominations to educate and de-stigmatize mental health issues
  • Accessibility to the LWN is achieved using various forms of technology –
Website (  ( (901-762-8558)
  • Leverages  MLH Congregational Health Network and other faith leaders to educate, inform and empower their congregants, church members, and others who may seek their counsel or support
  • Encourages faith leaders to support each other and recommend the LWN as a resource to other faith leaders
  • Reaches leaders in other community sectors through their informed pastors and encourages their support of the LWN and of mental health education
  • Educates lay leaders of congregations about mental health, community resources and how to access help through the LWN and share this new knowledge with others
  • LWN established through generous gift of Debbie Jones in memory of her husband who died by suicide in December 2009
  • Support of MLH Foundation in managing funds
  • Pastoral Pathway program has limited costs and is easily taken to scale with presentation to both small and large groups
  • Pastoral Pathway can reach larger and more rural audiences by creating a video that can go along with the slide presentation – allowing the knowledge to be shared via websites, Facebook, intranet and other educational venues
  • The LWN Advisory Committee made up of faith leaders, business owners, mental health professionals, physicians and consumers are working to increase sustainability via grants, philanthropy and reimbursable revenues.
  • Pastoral Pathway has transferability to other venues and can be adapted to employers/EAP providers and healthcare providers who may also be resources people seek for support and/or areas of with behavioral health issues.
  • Prepared presentation materials with clear, concise information about important mental health issues and how to handle referrals
  • Model for connecting with congregational leaders
  • Model for developing broad community support
  • Plan to add video to go along with the presentation in order to replicate the module to rural churches and other non-face to face venues
  • Modules can be adapted to focus on various cultural issues pertaining to each audience
An evaluation has been developed and is deployed via email to all program participants to determine whether the Pastoral Pathway approach accomplishes its objectives. Participants in the program who completed the anonymous evaluation estimated that, on average, one-fourth (25%) of their church members struggle with mental health problems. To date, all (100%) of the respondents agreed that they are better able to help their church members because of Pastoral Pathway, with over half (58%) who strongly agreed with this statement. All (100%) of the respondents intend to recommend the LWN to church members in need, including three-fourths (75%) who strongly intend to refer church members. Additionally, 100% (75% strongly) of the respondents intend to recommend the LWN to other church leaders in their congregation; and 100% (58% strongly) of the respondents intend to recommend the LWN to other church leaders in the community.