Spirituality & Diversity Discussions – 2023 Reflection

Earlier this month, Spiritual Health Association (SHA) concluded the final session for the 2023 series of Spirituality and Diversity Discussions with our partners at Victorian Transcultural Mental Health, exploring:  

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

SHA’s Mental Health Leader Jenny Greenham, shares:

This topic shifted the focus from care of our patients to care of ourselves as mental healthcare practitioners. The depth and range of personal spiritual health practices that people engage with in preparation for a day at work and in life was incredibly inspiring. It left me feeling that if I were ever in need of healthcare support I would be honoured to be cared for by this group of professionals.

There was universal recognition that attending to personal spirituality in whatever form that may take, was integral to going the distance and meeting the demands of professional healthcare practice. People shared specific rituals they engage in from various faith traditions such as prayer and the practice of silence, to spending intentional time in nature and tea drinking rituals that support each other to feel connected throughout their day.

Some articulated a gratitude practice that enquires in a reflective way, for instance ‘am I fulfilling the purpose of my role?’. For another, engaging in dialogue about what is and is not in one’s immediate control, and knowing when to hand the latter over to a higher power whilst getting on with the tasks at hand. People suggested that their internal spiritual health work supports them to stay grounded and able to manage work and life stressors. 

Over the course of 2023 the Spirituality and Diversity facilitation team explored with participants the following topics over 6 months. 

  • 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? 

Additionally, the team hosted a Webinar in April for 60 participants titled: Spirituality Matters: What clinicians need to know featuring members of the facilitation team and two people with a lived experience of mental ill health which took the form of a moderated panel discussion.  

Overall, the program for 2023 enjoyed great engagement from the mental health sector with positive feedback from participants who were in appreciation of a space to explore spirituality and spiritual care conversations and how to do this in various mental health roles. Participants were drawn from education, management, peer/carer, allied health, nursing, and support worker roles from a wide variety of services across Victoria.

Planning for the 2024 program is underway.  Visit the VTMH online education program for updates.

30th November 2023