Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, of Saddleback Church, will be joined by 40 experts in the field of mental health to host the second annual Gathering on Mental Health and the Church this coming October.
According to a press release for the event, The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, held on October 7-9, 2015, "will be packed with practical help and hope for individuals affected by mental illness, their loved ones, church leaders, and mental health professionals."
The Gathering is part of the Warrens' mission to empower those living with mental illnesses, which affects about 50% of adults worldwide, and to fight the stigma associated mental illness in general. The event was first held last year following the death of the Warren's son Matthew, who took his own life on April 5, 2013 after a lengthy battle with depression.
"When people tell me they have depression or bipolar disorder, they whisper it in my ear," Kay recently told the OC Register. "I wish there would be a day soon when people can say those things out loud, like they talk today about any other disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure."
She explained that the first step for the faith community is to become aware of the reality that is mental illness, as many people struggling with different kinds of illnesses will reach out to their pastor, priest or rabbi.
"When Matthew was diagnosed with depression at age 7, we had no idea," she said. "We were so ignorant, we didn't even know children could be depressed. We thought it was an adult problem."
"The conversation we're having now is groundbreaking," she continued. "But we have a long way to go. With the large involvement of the faith community in Orange County, they can become an invaluable partner on this critical issue."
The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church will take place at the main campus of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Over 40 speakers will be featured at the event, including best-selling author Sheila Walsh, United States Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who founded the Kennedy Forum out of his experience with substance abuse and mental illness.
The press release notes that other speakers will offer "presentations on the intersection of mental illness and veterans, substance abuse, law enforcement, children, adolescents, trauma, homelessness, and suicide prevention."
"We can't fight this battle alone," Kay said, explaining that she hopes the program will put faith groups on the path to becoming strong sources of support for those struggling with mental illness.
"All of us - mental health providers, government agencies, leaders and faith groups - need to work together as a community."
Tickets for the event are available here. Early-bird pricing ends August 31.