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Landmark Event Addresses the Role of the Church in Mental Health

Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University – Bloomington in 2001. She has spent over ...Read More

Yes, I really did it. I put “church” and “mental health” in the same title. And guess what? The universe did not collapse.

For a long time, society has failed to acknowledge the role of churches in providing mental health support and resources. In fact, the separation of church and mental health has been promoted by much of the mental health community almost as much as the separation of church and state is defended by many politically.

But it appears the tides may be turning. In a landmark event last month, Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church teamed up with other religious leaders and mental health organizations to offer The Gathering of Mental Health and the Church. The event’s goals were trifold:

  • To encourage people living with mental illness
  • To educate family members about mental illness and how the church can be of support and assistance
  • To equip church leaders to provide compassionate quality care to those affected by mental illness

The event was a huge success, with over 3,000 people attending to hear speakers on topics such as the role of the church in mental health; integrating physical, spiritual, and mental health; how to help those providing mental health care; the church as a mental health resource; and the need to stand together in suffering.

Several workshops were also offered on topics such as:

  • How the church can help families who are caring for a loved one with mental illness
  • The church’s role in healing eating disorders
  • How the church can build partnerships for mental health recovery
  • Responding to mental health crises in the church
  • The spiritual roots of addiction
  • How the church can help overcome the stigma of mental illness

I applaud Pastor Warren and all those who collaborated on and attended this important event. It took courage in a world where religion is having to defend itself as a legitimate resource for those who are hurting emotionally and experiencing mental health challenges. While not everyone who needs mental health assistance will want to seek it through a church, there are many who will only want to seek help in this way. Shouldn’t churches be prepared for this? And the best way to prepare is by working together.

Sources:

De Crescenzo, S. (March 28, 2014). Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren addresses mental health issues. Orange County Register: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/mental-607453-illness-warren.html

Murashko, A. (March 29, 2014). Saddleback Church hosts historic gathering on mental health and the church. The Christian Post: http://www.christianpost.com/news/saddleback-church-hosts-historic-gathering-on-mental-health-and-the-church-117071/

Keep Reading By Author Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.
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