5: Clergy Wellness with Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell


Dr. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell is a research professor at Duke Global Health Institute. In this episode, she shares research findings from the Clergy Health Initiative. She talks about the differences in behaviors between flourishing and burnt-out clergy. She shares practical strategies for clergy to guard themselves against burnout as well as her tips for seminarians.

About Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, PhD:

Dr. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell is a community psychologist and research professor of global health at Duke University. Her research on the intersection of physical and mental health, including positive mental health, targets the well-being of clergy members and individuals in ‘servant-hearted’ roles such as teaching, medicine, and caregiving.

Since its establishment in 2007, Proeschold-Bell has been at the forefront of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative, which she currently directs. Her leadership has been instrumental in guiding significant behavioral trials, including the Spirited Life holistic health study and the Selah stress management study. These endeavors play a crucial role in advancing well-being practices for clergy.

Additionally, Proeschold-Bell directs the Clergy Health Initiative Longitudinal Survey—one of the most extensive surveys of clergy health ever conducted. This 15-year project, involving over 2,000 North Carolina United Methodist clergy and eight survey waves, plays a significant role in enhancing the understanding of the multifaceted challenges clergy face and how best to navigate and address them.

Proeschold-Bell has co-authored Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis and over 85 journal articles, with more than 35 focused on clergy. These articles illuminate critical issues for clergy, from the impact of obesity and chronic diseases among United Methodist clergy to the four behaviors that flourishing clergy engage in.

Rae Jean resides with her husband and the younger of her two children in Durham, North Carolina. She finds joy in people, birding, hiking, and celebrating Halloween. When she’s not busy, Rae Jean is working on a book, currently bearing the working title, How to Make Cancer Suck Less for You or Someone You Love.


Episode links:

Visit the Duke Clergy & Religion Research Collaborative website to learn more about:

The two journal articles that were highlighted in today’s podcast episode:

Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis by Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee on Amazon

You can access the transcript here.