Mental Health and Spirituality: A new report

Mental Health and Spirituality: A new report

27 July 2022 by Alison Tsang in Mental Health.

Helping the NHS and Faith communities work better together

In 2019, Health Education England (HEE) and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) launched a project to explore the role and contribution that members of local faith communities could make to support people with emergent and actual mental health needs.

The valuable lessons we learned from this project have now been published in a report: Mental Health & Spirituality: Building Workforce Competence and Capability Together.

They will be used to shape a framework that will empower NHS staff and faith leaders to support people in their communities who urgently need care and support but may not know how or where they can find it.

The report was commissioned by HEE after a request by the Bishop of London, the Right Revd Dame Sarah Mullally.

She writes in the foreword:

Building intentional partnerships between faith leaders and mental health professionals has the potential to transform lives.

For all of us there are multiple influences which shape our wellbeing and the way that we experience and understand our mental health. Faith is one of those factors and it cannot be laid aside.

If we are a person of faith it will permeate every aspect of our lives, our understanding of what happens to us and our response to those who seek to offer help when we are unwell.

Faith leaders have deep knowledge of their own communities and the ways in which mental health needs are perceived, understood, acknowledged, or in some places greeted with silence, in those contexts.

Bringing together the professional skills and expertise of mental health professionals with the contextualised wisdom of those faith leaders is therefore a very powerful act.

This pilot project was an opportunity for health professionals to deepen their cultural and spiritual sensitivity and for faith leaders to acquire the skills and confidence to recognise and appropriately address the mental health needs of those with whom they have pastoral contact.

The training which has begun and is being developed for the future has been shaped by a two-way approach, honouring the knowledge and skill which everybody brings to the table from their professional and lived experience.

This is surely the best way to help one another to respond effectively and well to those with existing and emerging mental health needs.

  • The report is available to download and read here

  • The summary of research and key findings can be found in the press release here

  • You can download a copy below

We know that across London, churches and other faith communities are already involved in many ministries with those in their midst struggling with mental health issues.

From dementia cafes to mental health drops ins, to running courses in schools and youth groups about anxiety.

You can read just some of the stories of churches and schools across the Diocese tackling mental health in their communities here.

This vital and timely report is therefore hugely welcome. It holds the key to unlocking more of the cross working with health professionals that is so important if we are to serve our communities as best we can.

“The role of faith leaders in supporting mental health is well documented; it is essential they work with health professionals for the betterment of their communities & to engender better health outcomes”

Alison Tsang

Alison Tsang

Alison heads up the Compassionate Communities for the Diocese of London, who exist to support & equip churches and chaplaincies across the Diocese to better serve their communities compassionately.

View all posts by Alison Tsang

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