Top Religious, Health & Psychology Experts to Call the Church to Action at Mental Health Gathering

Saddleback Church, Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange & NAMI-OC Co-Host March 28th Gathering on Mental Health and the Church

LAKE FOREST, Calif., March 20, 2014 Expert leaders in the fields of faith, health and psychology will join together at Saddleback Church on March 28th for The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church to encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate family members, and equip church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any who face the challenges of mental illness.Mental_Health-Social_Share

Hosted by Saddleback Church, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County (NAMI-OC), The Gathering on Mental Health will include keynote speakers:

  • Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church;
  • The Most Reverend Kevin Vann, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange;
  • Steve Pitman, President of the NAMI-OC Board of Directors;
  • Amy Simpson, award-winning author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission;
  • Eric Johnson, Ph.D., Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Professor of Pastoral Care at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;
  • Chuck Hannaford, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist who has been in private practice and consultation with churches for over 30 years;
  • Matthew Stanford, Ph.D., professor of psychology, neuroscience and biomedical studies at Baylor University;
  • Aaron Kheriaty, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry, UC Irvine; and
  • Father Luke Dysinger, M.D., D.Phil., Benedictine Monk; professor, St. John’s Seminary.

“The Bible tells us that God’s heart is for the weak, vulnerable and marginalized,” said Kay Warren. “Mental illness is a complex issue. Our goal is not tie it up with a nice, neat bow, saying, ‘Ok, we know how to fix it now!’ but to say, ‘We are in this together for the long haul.’”

The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church will feature addresses on the role of the Church in mental health, integrating physical, spiritual and mental health; crisis management for church staff; resourcing the Church; and supporting those suffering. In addition, 20 interactive workshops will be held covering depression, stigma, suicide-risk reduction, church counseling, support groups and recovery ministries, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, addictions, and other topics to bring hope to the challenges of mental illness.

This event marks the first initiative in the Warren’s mission to remove the stigma of mental illness following the death of their son, Matthew, who took his life on April 5, 2013 after a lifelong struggle with mental illness.

“One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain,” Pastor Warren said. “When Kay and I began ministering to people with HIV&AIDS about a dozen years ago, I thought being HIV positive was the greatest taboo. But actually, I think mental illness is and we want to remove the stigma.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, one in four adults − approximately 61.5 million Americans − experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17 − about 13.6 million − live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

The first place many go for help is to their faith leader because the heart of Jesus and the Church has always been for those who suffer.

“Over my many years as a pastor and faith leader I have spent a great deal of time with those suffering with mental illness and understand the pain their families often endure. It is my prayerful hope that through this unique collaboration we will begin to reduce the stigma around mental illness and let families know that there is a loving and safe place where they can seek solace, support and care – the Church,” said Bishop Vann.

The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church will take place March 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. PDT at the main campus of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Tickets for the Worship Center and overflow locations are currently available for $20. The event will be a free live webcast. To purchase tickets, participate in the webcast, or for more information, visit http://mentalhealthandthechurch.com/.

– 30 –

Note to Editors: For media credentials to cover The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, contact Kristin Cole at 972.267.1111 or Kristin@alarryross.com.  

For more info, visit our online newsroom.