SHLE Network Meets for the Last Time

The national Spiritual Health Lived Experience (SHLE) Network met recently for the last time. An initiative of SHLEAC that was established in 2022, the Network brought together a community of people who identified as having lived or living experience as a consumer or carer, to collaborate with SHLEAC and SHA in our advocacy work for the full integration of spirituality and spiritual care in mental health services across Australia.

In just under two years, 35 people from around Australia became members of the Spiritual Health Lived Experience Network. In this time, SHLEAC hosted four Network engagement events with members to exchange ideas and information regarding the work and direction of the committee.  

In October 2022, the Victorian Health Department (Mental Health & Wellbeing branch) declared funding for services provided by SHA in mental health would cease as of 30 June 2024. Efforts over the last 18 months to have this decision reversed have not been successful. Consequently, the mental health program of SHA and the work of SHLEAC and the Spiritual Health Lived Experience Network will regrettably come to an end.  

At a final Network event on 20 May 2024, members shared the following reflections: 

  • Despite the discontinuation of government funding and apparent disinterest in spiritual health, an increasing call for conversations related to spiritual health was noted. Members are experiencing this trend in both their work and personal spheres. Because of this people felt hopeful for positive change and investment in this space in the future.
  • Belonging to this Network has enabled greater confidence to live one’s spiritual values and express this passion to different audiences. People reported feeling competent and equipped to step into the role of advocates and champions for spiritual health and wellbeing.
  • People expressed a desire for the work undertaken by this group to be acknowledged and archived as an accurate record of efforts made at this time in the evolution of mental healthcare that aligns to a model of true holistic healthcare.
  • There was a resounding feeling that as one door closes another will open, such is the philosophical and spiritual underpinning that has been the foundation of this group…a space where the practice of loving kindness toward the other and the sharing of lived wisdom is valued above all else.