The Community Church of Leesburg will hold a community meeting on mental health issues tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. at 835 Lee Avenue in Leesburg.
The meeting is unrelated to the suicide by a Loudoun Valley High School student Thursday, as planning for the event has been in the works for some months.
“But it points out the need” to address mental health problems, church Worship Pastor Doug Wall said today.
Tomorrow night’s meeting is for anyone who wants to be involved in the effort to create resources for those afflicted with mental health problems—of any age, according to Wall.
Wall said that surveys have shown eight out of 10 people with mental health issues go to their church first.
“So, we’re trying to identify what we as a church can do to become a resource, put professionals in place within the church, to reach out to people—regardless of their faith, affiliation or views,” Wall said.
The church’s mental health initiative stems from a conference at the country’s eighth largest church, Saddleback, in Lake Forest, CA, that Wall attended in October.
The conference was led by Saddleback’s founder, Pastor Rev. Rick Warren. He and his wife Kay lost their son Matthew to suicide two years ago, and Warren said last year, “Your greatest ministry will flow out of your greatest pain.”
Wall notes that Warren leads one of the biggest addiction ministries in the world and is a New York Times bestselling author. His book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” has sold more than 30 million copies.
Wall was impressed by the attendance, noting the surgeon general was there, as well as Patrick Kennedy, who spoke on his family’s problems with alcohol and drug addictions.
Wall said that part of the issue facing communities is that “we’re woefully short of resources.” Even the well-known Warren could not find a bed for his son during his illness, he told the audience at the conference.
Leesburg Community Church hopes to get people to understand that mental health is an illness, just like a heart attack.
“You can get a bed for that,”Wall said.
The conference sought to galvanize churches to take a leading role on mental health issues and Leesburg Christian Church is eager to participate, Wall said. “Tomorrow night’s meeting is to say, ‘this is who we are, what we want to become and to walk together to eliminate the stigma of mental health.’ We want to start the conversation on mental health.”
For more information, call the church at 703-777-2209.