On September 24th 2015, the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute hosted a briefing session titled “Mental Health and the Christian Faith” at The Gathering’s 30th annual event at the Four Seasons in Dallas. Since 1985, The Gathering has been an event where like-minded individuals seek to discuss issues such as faith and mental health in a positive and encouraging environment of their peers and to serve as a resource for the community. The conference spans three days and the briefing session featured Tom Luce, CEO of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church. Tom and Kay were joined by ten top experts in the field of mental health.
The experts were grouped into four separate panels, each covering a different aspect of mental health. The first panel “Mental Health & Faith: An Overview of the Needs and Opportunities” was moderated by Tom Luce and featured Dr. Andrew Keller, our EVP of Policy and Programs; Dave Wise, a writer and professional blogger sharing his own personal experiences with faith and mental illness; and author Dr. H. Jean Wright, a clinical and forensic psychologist whose new book “Find Strength in Your Struggle” was just released. Dr. Wright spoke about the importance of the partnership between the faith community and the mental health community, saying “The faith community has the ability to reach where I may not be able to reach. It is about caring and connecting, and a recovery-oriented system of care means teaching people how to care about other people.”
The second panel, “The Reality of Stigma” featured Sharon Butterworth, a Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute Board Member; civic leader Colonel Miguel Howe, Director of the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute; Dr. Sandra Chapman, the Founder and Chief Director at the UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth; and Cindy Patrick, Senior Program Officer of the Meadows Foundation. Patrick spoke on the important mission of the Meadows Foundation “to improve the lives of people in Texas” and how mental health is one of those needed improvements. Colonel Howe discussed two important issues of not only his work, but of our work at the Institute, stigma and veterans.
Next, Dr. Peter Selby, the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute Director of Child and Family Policy, moderated a third panel featuring Barbara Granger, Family Coordinator for Via Hope who was joined again by Dr. H Jean Wright. This third panel, “The Special Needs of Children and Families,” focused on another one of our key focus areas, children. Barbara Granger, an accomplished professional who shared her expertise on the subject, asked to be introduced as “someone who has a child with mental health issues in my family and someone who is the wife of a pastor,” which showed her passionate and proud connection to both mental health care and the faith community.
The fourth and final panel, “A Ministry Opportunity for Faith Communities & Faith-Based Organizations,” was moderated by MMHPI’s Jim Zahniser and featured Kay Warren, Co-Founder of Saddleback Church and Dr. Doug Ronsheim, Executive Director of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Dr. Ronsheim believes that the joining of mental health and faith communities is “no longer just a good idea, but is a movement.” Kay Warren was the last to speak and immediately captivated and moved the audience with her personal conviction and story. She spoke about the loss of her son to suicide and how she and her family “remain devastated but not destroyed.” Kay talked about the deep need for new partners and a new approach to mental health, and the crucial role that faith communities can play in those new partnerships and approaches. For Kay, those attending the briefing and all the attendants at The Gathering, the faith-based community is but an “army waiting to be mobilized.” #MobilizingMinds
Keep an eye out for upcoming videos featuring panelists from the briefing “Mental Health and the Christian Faith”.