By Staff, Baptist Message
NEW IBERIA – Pastor David Denton believes it is time to remove the stigma from mental illness and believes the church is a good place to start.
Pastor at Highland Baptist Church in New Iberia, Denton felt God’s prompting after the Jeremiah Johnston study – “Unanswered: Lasting Answers to Trending Questions” – to address the issue of Christians and mental illness. This study was timely as several of his church members had been impacted by traumatic events associated with mental illness.
“I did some research and it shows 25 percent of our population has or will be diagnosed with some form of mental illness,” he said. “That affects a lot of people. There is no instantaneous fix but the issue needs to be addressed in a Christian worldview.”
In order to do so, Highland Baptist will host a one-day, interactive event on mental health April 22.
The event’s theme, “Hope for Mental Health,” will begin Sunday morning as Kevin Richard, staff counselor at Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, will be casting some biblical light on the subject of mental illness at the 8 and 10:30 a.m. worship services.
The afternoon schedule begins at 4 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall with a light meal and overview of “Christians and Mental Illness” led by Chris Van Dyke, Denton’s brother-in-law and Chief Operating Officer of Wellstone, Inc., a mental health facility in Alabama.
The symposium’s schedule also includes two breakout sessions at 4:45 and 5:45 p.m. and a break at 5:30.
Among the topics to be discussed – “Anxiety and Depression” led by Richard; “How to Talk to Someone in Crisis/Suicide: What Can We Do?” led by Van Dyke; “Living With A Person Who Is Mentally Ill” led by Jeremy Babb, a staff psychologist with Iberia Parish School Board and the 2017 Louisiana School Psychologist of the Year; and, “Meds vs No Meds: That Is the Question” led by Lindsay Nicholson, a licensed clinical social worker. Babb and Nicholson both are members of Highland Baptist.
All four will participate in a panel discussion beginning at 6:30 p.m.
“Our purpose will be to educate believers concerning the issue of mental illness and to equip believers to minister to those affected by mental illness,” Denton said.
“We want to be in a position to help those inside and outside the church,” he continued. “Those who are dealing with mental illness need to know that they are not alone.”
“The scheduled event has begun to generate some conversation about the issue and already we are seeing broken people step forward to say ‘I need help.’ I trust God will use the weekend to help more people find wholeness in Jesus,” Denton added.
For more information about this symposium, call 337.365.5471.