Category: Spirituality

Spirituality & Diversity Discussions

Since 2019, Spiritual Health Association (SHA) in partnership with Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) has been offering the opportunity for mental health practitioners to explore and nominate the challenges they may encounter when spirituality or religion comes up for their consumers.

In April 2023, VTMH presented a webinar on  “Spirituality matters – what clinicians needs to know”  that launched the program for the year.

After this, 6 reflective sessions on topics concerning spirituality and mental health were conducted over the course of 2023. Topics included:

– How do I respond caringly to someone who believes they are Jesus, Mohammed or other revered sages?

– Spiritual beliefs, values and personal biases: How do they influence my work? 

– Discussing spirituality and mental health in my organisation: Do I feel safe?

– How do I affirm someone’s spiritual identity and resources when supporting their recovery journey? 

– I’m not spiritual or religious. How do I support consumers who are? 

– As another year closes, where am I with regards to my own spiritual health and wellbeing?

These sessions were run online and participants were very excited to discuss each topic in a small group. The program will run again in 2024 with new topics.

Please sign up to the VTMH mailing list here to receive updates about when these sessions will occur and to find out what the topics will be.

Spirituality & Diversity discussions in 2021

In 2021, VTMH and Spiritual Health Association (SHA) held a small webinar attended by approximately 30 participants on the topic of “Spiritual care responses to mental health crisis and recovery – Join the conversation.”  

Subsequently, 5 sessions of peer reflective groups were held. Topics discussed during these sessions included:  

  • “Spiritual identity and positive mental health and wellbeing: What’s the relationship?” 
  • “Understanding spiritual trauma through spiritual care: Where to begin?” 
  • “Back to basics – what is spiritual health and how does it support mental health?” (Coinciding with the lead up to International Spiritual Care Week)  
  • “Spiritual beliefs, values and personal biases: Do they influence my work?” 
  • “Recovery and spiritual care values: Are we talking about the same thing?”

VTMH and SHA look forward to continuing these reflective discussions into 2022.

To ensure you are notified of upcoming sessions, please add yourself to the VTMH mailing list here

Talking about spirituality and diversity

These sessions support practitioners to deepen their understanding of ways to explore diverse spiritual beliefs in conversation with mental health consumers. 

Once again, we responded to current circumstances, and took the project online. Participants have enjoyed the flexibility. Attendance have increased and so has our reach. VTMH has been reflecting on what’s been learnt so far and are preparing to run another series later this year. 

Spirituality & Diversity Discussion Group 2019

This project was developed as a result of feedback from a joint forum held by VTMH and Spiritual Health Association in August 2017, ‘Opening Doors to Spiritual Experience: exploring practices that enrich personal recovery’. A strong theme that came out of the feedback received from this event was that mental health practitioners were wanting more reflective spaces to discuss Spirituality in regards to Recovery.

Through six, monthly sessions lasting 90 minutes each, these groups have consisted of participants from various mental health services across Victoria. Roles have included Lived experience practitioners, Case Managers, Community mental health practitioners, Psychiatric Nurses and Spiritual Care Workers.

The sessions were facilitated by Jennifer Greenham, Spiritual Health Association, James Godfrey a Spiritual Care Coordinator from Forensicare, Justin Kuay Consultant Psychiatrist, VTMH and Josie Tremain, Education & Service Development Consultant, VTMH.Each session of the program explored a different theme for reflection and discussion including:

  • Psychiatry and God — why re they such uncomfortable bedfellows?
  • I’m spiritual but not religious — what does this mean?
  • How to respond caringly to someone who believes they are Jesus, Mohammed or other revered sages.
  • How to respond to a request for prayer
  • Recovery & Spiritual Care Values — are we talking about the same thing?
  • Spirituality discussion groups — what’s involved and could you facilitate one in your workplace?

These discussion groups invited practitioners to share their experiences and insights, and to unpack some of the unknowns surrounding spiritual and religious discussions in mental health settings. They allowed practitioners to develop a deeper understanding of how to explore conversations with mental health consumers about their diverse spiritual beliefs.

The program received a high level of interest from across the mental health sector and demand for places filled very quickly. Evaluation of the feedback and outcomes of the program is currently underway and will determine the next phase of this program in 2020.

Thank you to all the participants that have attended and contributed to this series of discussions throughout 2019.

Some comments from the feedback:

“It was respectful, open, inquisitive and invitational”

“Everyone allowing space, fascinating perspectives, broadening understanding”

“Open mind to spirituality, there is no wrong door to recovery”