Rick and Kay Warren to host free mental health conference

Kay and Rick Warren's son Matthew took his own life in 2013 after a lifelong struggle with mental health.(Photo: Saddleback Pics)

Rick and Kay Warren are today hosting a 24 hour online conference looking at issues surrounding mental health and the Church.

24 Hours of Hope is designed to "encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate and support their families, and equip church leaders for compassionate and effective health ministry."

More than 30 speakers will offer practical advice surrounding issues such as eating disorders, anxiety, crisis management and holistic care.

The Warrens' son Matthew killed himself last year after a long battle with depression. They want to tackle some of the stigma surrounding mental illness and help those who are suffering.

"The day he [Matthew] died was the absolute worst day of our lives, and many people have asked us how we got through those darkest days of our despair, our grief and our sorrow, and the answer is Jesus Christ," Rick said.

"It was our faith in him, our family, our church, our small group, our friends. You see, we weren't made to go through the worst times of life on our own, and if you're in pain right now, any kind of emotional or mental pain, you need other people in your life – you need the Church."

The conference is being held today, World Mental Health Day.

"We want to create awareness of the struggle that 450 million people around the world experience as they live with a mental illness and dispel the stigma so that they can get the help that they need," Kay said.

The conference is open to anyone, and the Warrens are encouraging everyone to get involved.

"You may not be dealing personally with depression, or discouragement or dispair..but I can guarentee you this: you have friends, just like we do, who struggle with these same issues," Rick said.

For more information, go to www.mentalhealthandthechurch.com.