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Who do persons with mental health issues reach out to?

February 08, 2017


by Marshall Williams

The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church in 2014 was a national event, founded by Kay Warren and her husband Rick, centering on the hope Jesus Christ can bring to those with mental illness. Healthcare professionals, pastors and others discussed the hopelessness that is present when people suffer silently due to their mental illness. They recognized and acknowledged that mental health is infrequently discussed unless there is a mass shooting or terrible event. They asked the question, “Who do persons with mental health issues reach out to?”  

Much of the discussion focused on questions such as, “How can and should the church talk about mental illness? When will the medical system realize that it can never meet all of the needs of people? When will the church and the medical system realize that they need each other and can be most effective when working hand in hand?”

More pertinent to our section were the questions, “How can the tension between the church and psychiatrists be lessened? How can psychiatrists be seen as an instrument bringing hope and light into the darkness of mental illness?”

Kay Warren will be highlighting these and a variety of other issues related to psychiatry, mental illness and the church at the CMDA Psychiatry Section’s evening banquet during APA 2017 on Tuesday, May 23 in San Diego, California.

Kay is an international speaker, bestselling author and Bible teacher who has a passion for inspiring and motivating others to make a difference with their lives. She has experienced dark times as she has had two bouts of cancer, watched life-threatening illnesses attack her children and grandchildren and has lived with mild depression most of her life. She is best known for more than 10 years as a tireless advocate for those living with mental illness, HIV and AIDS, as well as the orphaned and vulnerable children left behind. As an advocate, she has traveled to 19 countries, calling the faith community as well as the public and private sectors to respond with prevention, care, treatment and support.

When Matthew, her youngest son, took his life in April 2013, her life was dramatically altered by the catastrophic loss. As she and her family continue to grieve the loss of Matthew, she has determined to be a voice for those living with mental illness. Her message to the faith community is to eliminate stigma, shame and fear, as well as to create warm and accepting places of refuge for those who suffer. 

Along with Saddleback Church, Kay and her husband Rick are key sponsors of the Hope for Mental Health movement which is bringing much needed focus to the need that the church must step up and be ready to minister to those with mental illnesses. Studies show that when people are struggling with mental illnesses, the first place they call is the church. In many cases, the church is not ready to reach out and embrace those asking for help. We as Christian psychiatrists can help fill this void in our churches as we partner and invest in the congregations where we attend and serve. 

Kay is author of several books including Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough. The book was adapted from a Bible study she first taught at Saddleback Church in July 2011 that was attended by more than 5,000 women during the four-week sessions. In the book, Kay describes how her painful experiences have shaped her conviction that joy is a choice and within the reach of every person, no matter how desperate or dark circumstances may be.

She is also author of Dangerous Surrender, which was originally released in 2007 and revised, expanded and published as Say Yes to God in 2010, and co-author of Foundations: 11 Core Truths to Build Your Life On with Pastor Tom Holladay. Additionally, Kay has written for Christianity TodayPurpose Driven, and The Washington Post. She has been featured in NewsweekReader’s DigestGuidepostsSojournersPOZ and Today’s Christian Woman magazines, among others.

Kay attended California Baptist College and earned her BA from California State University, Los Angeles. Her children are Amy and Josh, and Matthew who is in Heaven, and she has five grandchildren: Kaylie, Cassidy, Caleb, Cole and Claire.

Join CMDA's Psychiatry Section at these special events offered specifically for the members of CMDA's Psychiatry Section during the American Psychiatry Association's Annual Meeting on May 22-24, 2017 in San Diego, California. Once again, we will have a full agenda of meetings for our members and guests as we seek to challenge and encourage each other in integrating faith and practice. 

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