‘We want to give hope’: La Jolla Presbyterian Church to host its first mental-health summit

Pastor Scott Mitchell and his wife Laura are founders of the first ‘Sunrise of Hope’ mental health summit to be held at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, Saturday, March 9.

Pastor Scott Mitchell and his wife Laura are founders of the first ‘Sunrise of Hope’ mental health summit to be held at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, Saturday, March 9.


Registration is underway for La Jolla Presbyterian Church’s inaugural mental health summit, themed “Sunrise of Hope,” 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9 on the church grounds at 7715 Draper Ave.

The event will feature keynote speakers, “breakout” topics with professionals, food and more.

The keynote speaker is Saddleback Church co-founder Kay Warren, a Christian author and advocate for those living with mental illness. As a mother who has dealt with depression and suicide in her own family, Warren will share her experiences and insights during two presentations.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to select a professional-led breakout session. Topics to choose from include depression; anxiety; suicide prevention training; mental health for children, adolescents and parents; addiction; mental health; two PTSD panels, one is traumatic stress and the other diagnoses and treatment in military vets; rendering aid; schizophrenia; postpartum depression; and bi-polar disorder.

Created by La Jolla Presbyterian Church Pastor Scott Mitchell and his wife Laura, the summit will be rooted in faith-based practices and speakers, but is open to the entire community. While the idea for the event was crystallized three years ago, for the Mitchells, the concept of mental health awareness goes way back.

Laura explained: “Our children have both struggled with different things: one was in elementary school and struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Tourette syndrome; and the other was in their freshman year of high school and struggled with depression and has since been diagnosed as bi-polar.”

Watching their daughter overcome her struggles and become “a voice for others,” Laura said, was inspiring. “She was so open and real and raw, it gave us the permission to do that as well. As a pastor’s family, you live in a ‘fishbowl’ and you want to protect your family, but you have to be vulnerable and share what you’re going through. People relate to those going through the journey.”

Bringing this background to the forefront, Laura said God spoke to her three years ago about how she could take her experiences and use them to help others. “I had this vision,” she told La Jolla Light. “Every detail of a one-day summit on mental health was so clear.”

And one particular detail that was strikingly clear was having speaker Kay Warren participate.

“She lost her son to suicide a few years ago and has a huge following,” Scott said. “So right away, we knew we needed to get her. We went up to a three-day event in Orange County that Warren organized, and the people speaking were dealing with issues such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. These people were dealing with these illnesses and yet they were succeeding. It was a hopeful realization. You can grow and live well! We hope that at our summit, she will convey how to live with these issues and live victoriously.”

He added it took a year-and-a-half to coordinate schedules to get Warren as the speaker. From there, the Mitchells found experts — nearly all of whom are faith-based — on a variety of topics for the breakout sessions.

“We’ve had speakers on mental health at different events, and by and large, they spent the lion’s share of the time speaking from a clinical perspective,” Scott said. “One man addressed faith in a very approachable way. Anyone who attends this summit is going to find a host of things to help them ... it’s not going to be evangelizing, we want to give hope.”

One of the speakers is a San Diego County medical officer.

“It is not just for those struggling, but those whose loved ones are struggling,” Laura added. “As a mama of a daughter (with mental illness), it can be difficult to see your loved ones going through pain. But we’re trying to reach both sets of people — anyone and everyone is welcome.”

IF YOU GO: Sunrise of Hope mental health summit, runs 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9 at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, 7715 Draper Ave. The cost is $30. Online registration is required at