NAMI Family Member Guest Speaker

Yesterday afternoon at NAMI Peer-to-Peer Recovery Education Program, we had the pleasure of listening to Steve Pitman, Board of Directors President of NAMI Orange County, who shared his experience as a family member of those living with mental illness.
Here is a video of Steve Pitman giving a similar speech at The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church at Saddleback Church last March:

You can watch videos of the conference on the Mental Health and the Church YouTube channel:

Last March, I attended the conference and heard Steve Pitman speak. I briefly wrote about my experience on my blog post: The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church. The conference was a joint effort by Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church, Bishop Kevin Vann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and NAMI Orange County, as well as other faith and community leaders. The conference was:

a one-day event designed to encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate family members, and equip church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any faced with the challenges of mental illness.

NAMI FaithNet

For many years NAMI has reached out to faith communities through FaithNet.

NAMI FaithNet is a network of NAMI members and friends dedicated to promoting caring faith communities and promoting the role of faith in recovery for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

NAMI FaithNet is proud to offer two programs and guides to assist NAMI Affiliate and State Organization grass root leaders with their faith outreach efforts. Learn more about Reaching Out to Faith Communities and Bridges of Hope.

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.