Saddleback Church, founded by Pastor Rick and Kay Warren, will convene top experts in the fields of faith, medicine and government to equip church and lay leaders to care for individuals affected by mental illness during the second-annual Gathering on Mental Health & The Church to be held at Saddleback, October 7-9.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 50 percent of all adults will develop depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia or some other mental illness in their lifetime.
“These statistics mean that everyone knows and loves someone who is affected by mental illness,” said Kay Warren. “Though this staggering reality can feel daunting, we believe there is hope for mental health. These three days will be packed with practical help and encouragement for church leader, mental health professionals, individuals affected by mental illness, their loved ones.”
“Studies show that often the first place people go when they are in a mental health crisis is to their pastor or to their priest, because the heart of Jesus and the church has always been for those who suffer,” Kay Warren continued. “The Gathering will provide intensive training for anyone in the faith community interested in forming a mental health ministry so that every church – regardless of size or location – can be a place of refuge, love and compassion for those who need it most.”
Saddleback has created a sustainable Church-Initiated Mental Health Strategy that can be built over time, adapted and implemented into all areas of ministries in any church. Saddleback will release the “Hope For Mental Health Starter Kit” at the conference to assist churches in starting small and gradually expanding a mental health ministry through “crawl, walk and run” strategies.
“It’s time to break the silence surrounding mental illness,” said Kay Warren. “It’s time to embrace the millions of people who are suffering every day and it’s time to join together and create a pathway for hope.”
Rick and Kay Warren began The Gathering on Mental Health & The Church in 2014 following the death of their son, Matthew, who took his life on April 5, 2013 after a lifelong struggle with mental illness.
“I truly believe that God never wastes a hurt, and that one’s greatest ministry often comes out of one’s deepest pain,” said Rick Warren. “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.”
The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church will take place October 7-9, 2015, at the main campus of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. For more information or to register, visit http://hope4mentalhealth.com/.