Equipping Military Chaplains with a Framework for Mental Wellness: A Qualitative Descriptive Study
Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Chaplaincy, Mental Health, Mental Wellness, Equipping Chaplains
Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Okolo, Stephanie, "Equipping Military Chaplains with a Framework for Mental Wellness: A Qualitative Descriptive Study" (2021). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3227.
Although it is said that the sight of a battlefield after combat can fill princes with a love of peace and haunt them with the horrors of war, the mental health effects of war on soldiers are often frustratingly difficult to comprehend. It is, however, clear that warzones and the general environments in which deployed soldiers work can have negative impacts on their mental health. Military chaplains work closely with deployed soldiers and should be well-equipped with the knowledge to help them understand their mental health needs. It is important that they possess the right skills to do this well. Unlike psychologists and psychiatrists who practice in designated healthcare facilities, military chaplains accompany soldiers in the field and gain first-hand experience on the nature of their work and the possible impacts it can have on their health. As such, military chaplains are more likely to be able to offer problem-focused mental health guidance to deployed soldiers, compared to other mental health professionals who do not have first-hand experience in the field. With this in mind, it is essential that we ensure military chaplains are well prepared to address the mental health issues that affect deployed soldiers by equipping them with a framework for mental wellness. The basic argument that informs this project is that military chaplains are not well equipped to offer quality mental health assistance to deployed soldiers. They would therefore benefit from a framework that would help them understand soldiers’ mental health needs and contribute to their mental wellbeing. This study addresses the lack of adequate mental health training among military chaplains who work with deployed soldiers and identifies the need to equip them with a suitable framework that could improve their competency in mental health wellness services. One of the limitations that might affect the quality of the results presented here is if some of the participants were absent for specific lessons. This would affect their ability to understand and acquire the skills they are expected to learn from the framework or result in variations in how the military chaplains apply the framework. Another limitation to the project is the tight schedule in which to deliver the components of the framework and the limited funds for any unexpected additional expenses. More time and funds could better support this endeavor to introduce a framework to help military chaplains understand mental health.