Life is hard at times but for those that struggle with mental illness life can be unmanageable. In the past I’ve had my own struggles with depression, anxiety and most recently, panic attacks. As a therapist, friend, and follower of Christ I feel it’s a calling to be transparent and offer whatever hope I can to others who might be struggling with mental illness. The truth is we live in a Western world where the culture is centered around the individual and saturated with “pull yourself up from your bootstraps” kind of messages. In the church we haven’t done much better at accepting, listening and offering hope to people with mental illnesses. Many churches are catching on and offering counseling services and support groups, but “the church” is made up of people from all walks of life and we are called to minister to everyone. Learning to help someone with a mental illness has to start with YOU, not just mental health care professionals. I dream of a church and culture that one day makes it safe for a person to openly say, “yes I have bipolar disorder and this is what’s working for me.” I believe that Christ died so that we can be whole human beings. If we aren’t fully accepting every part of ourselves, even the bad parts, we aren’t experiencing the full degree of salvation that Jesus died for. So in saying this, I ask how do we care for our souls and the souls of others? There’s so much more we can do to offer hope. Right off the bat I think there are three things we can do to help the person with a mental illness:
- Listen: Don’t try to fix the person or the problem but listen with the intention of stepping into their world.
- Love: Showing love to someone with a mental illness looks like friendship. Stay in touch and follow up with how they are doing and offer resources if they don’t already have them.
- Accept: You must accept that it’s not up to you to fix the problem or the person but to ultimately be a companion and accept them as they are whatever their diagnosis or struggle may be.
Today I had the privilege of sitting down to lunch with Kay Warren and a handful of other women to discuss mental illness in families and Saddleback Church’s mission to help equip people from all faiths to de-stigmatize mental illness. Kay and Rick Warren have created a program called “Hope for Mental Health” and will be hosting an incredible event Oct.7-9th called The Gathering on Mental Health & The Church. This conference was created to educate everyone about mental illness and how you can help those who suffer with it and will be featuring some of the top professionals in the mental health field. Here’s a video of Kay explaining this mission and description below in her own words.
“It’s difficult to imagine that 50% of adults will develop depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, or some other mental illness in their lifetime. This staggering reality can feel daunting, but there is HOPE.
HOPE says that you are not defined by your illness. HOPE says your life has a purpose even when you don’t feel it. HOPE says you are loved.
Be a part of breaking the silence and stigma by joining us on October 7–9, 2015 for Saddleback Church’s Gathering on Mental Health and The Church. These three days are packed with practical help and hope for individuals affected by mental illness, their loved ones, church leaders, and mental health professionals. It’s time to step up together and create a pathway to HOPE. It’s time to offer a place of refuge, love, and compassion for those who need it most. It’s time to acknowledge the facts and embrace the millions of people suffering from mental illness everyday.
Join us for this hope-filled event.” For $30 off admission use code Hope4Families.
REGISTER AT HOPE4MENTALHEALTH.COM
The Gathering on Mental Health & The Church
October 7 – 9, 2015
Saddleback Church Lake Forest
Here are some other fun photos of my time with Kay Warren. PS I completely nerded our in their library…it’s insane!