The Edmond Sun

October 21, 2013

Church: Jesus brings hope to mental health issues

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Individuals suffering from a mental illness can find hope in Jesus, organizers of a related conference say.

Henderson Hills Baptist Church, located on the northeast corner of 15th Street and the Interstate 35 E. Frontage Road, is hosting “The Freedom Conference: How Jesus brings hope to fear, anxiety and depression” Nov. 8-9.

Seth Wachtel, pastoral resident at Henderson Hills, said even though Edmond is a largely affluent community residents are not immune to anxiety, depression and fear. The gospel, has implications for how individuals deal with these issues, Wachtel said.

“We believe this is such a common struggle in our world today so we say that this conference is for everyone,” he said.

Wachtel said in the Christian worldview, mankind exists in a state of brokenness, which is not the way things were intended to be. The power of the gospel changes individuals from the inside out, Wachtel said. And organizers want Christians to be encouraged in their faith, he said.

The Freedom Conference features Ed Welch, a counselor and faculty member at the Oklahoma Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation who has earned a doctorate in counseling from the University of Utah.

Welch has been counseling for more than 30 years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear and addictions. His books include: “When People Are Big and God is Small,” “Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave” and “Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away From Addiction.”

Welch said the conference name is broadly tailored but it could easily be called “Every Person’s Struggle.”

“Once we start looking for fear and anxiety in our own life, we can find them everywhere — and I have had a few doozies recently myself, which makes the topic especially personal,” Welch said.

Depression, too, seems to be everywhere, and medication has not turned out to be the hoped-for answer, Welch said.

“So we will consider what Scripture says about these common struggles,” he said. “What we hope to find is that Scripture, true to form, is surprising, profound, simple, gentle and says much more than we imagined. It turns out that the things that are hard and important to us are important to God as well.”

Jenny Monroe, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, said mental health related calls are more prevalent than many citizens probably realize. The agency has crisis intervention trained officers available on each shift, Monroe said.

Unfortunately, resources for people experiencing mental health crises are limited and not everyone knows where to begin to get help, she said. It is especially hard to find help for someone who is an adult and not consenting to receive treatment.

“Our goal is to help and intervene before the mental health crisis becomes criminal, which is what happens in some instances,” Monroe said. “Don’t be afraid or hesitant to call 911 if there is a mental health situation with someone in your life and ask for help in handling it.”

Freedom Conference cost is $10 per person. Child care will be provided for children birth through fifth grade at no additional cost. The numbers the church can accept may be limited by space and availability of workers, so they encourage early registration. Child care registration ends Nov. 4.