The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church

Last Friday I attended The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church at Saddleback Church. The all-day conference was a joint effort of Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church, Bishop Kevin Vann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and NAMI-OC (National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County), as well as other faith and community leaders.

At the beginning of the day, I felt that I was in the perfect place, but as the day progressed, I grew weary, as well as leery. Weary, because it was a very long day with much to take in, much even for me who has lived it, practiced it, and studied it. Not only am I a mental health survivor, but I am a former mental health provider. Not only am I a child of God, but I have attended seminary. Furthermore, the content of my work in seminary, much of my writing, in particular my paper on Mental Health Ministry, dealt with this conference’s focus.

Yet I pull back from organizational structure, from brick and mortar churches, from groups in general. I fear a loss of self, an inability to preserve my identity, to take care of myself. I fear becoming engulfed and subsuming my own needs and separateness from the needs of the whole. I fear drowning.

Perhaps I overstate my fear. Perhaps it is unfounded. Perhaps I am perfectly capable of working within an organizational structure.

Then again, perhaps that is not where I belong. Perhaps I work better as an outsider, as a member of smaller, more casual, groups. I shy away from “like-mindedness.” I embrace difference, tolerance, variety.

7 thoughts on “The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church

  1. SalvaVenia May 14, 2014 / 5:14 am

    Being a psychotherapist and with your background, you know everything about organisational structure and where it is necessary and for what reasons and under which circumstances. May be just utilising existing structures when there is need and also just providing support towards organisation when there is need, might be an appropriate approach. Trying to find the famous middle-course, so to say. Keeping doors open to both sides. 🙂


    • Kitt O'Malley May 14, 2014 / 8:47 am

      Interesting perspective. Do you have a background in organizational psychology? “Keeping doors open to both sides” is wise advice.


  2. Carolyn Teas April 4, 2014 / 7:52 pm

    Hi Kitt, I met you at the Saddleback Mental Health forum and you handed me your card. I love how the internet makes the world smaller. Glad we met 🙂 I blogged about the event too! I’m not a blogger pro, just processing. I have 2 “followers” and they are both in my family, lol. Anyway, I hope you can stop by my blog and say hi.


    • Kitt O'Malley April 4, 2014 / 8:46 pm

      Carolyn, great to hear from you again. I’m going to check out your blog right now.


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