Spirituality & Diversity Discussions – A look back over 2023

By Natasha Rajagopalan, Psychiatric Registrar, St. Vincents Hospital, Melbourne

In 2023, I had the opportunity to work with the team coordinating the Spirituality and Diversity discussions over the course of the year. I can say that prior to my involvement in this project, my experience with my own spirituality was limited to walking starry-eyed through temples as a child, praying at my windowsill as a teenager, and later, as an adult and newly identified atheist, hearing about a close friend’s growing interest in Buddhism. Needless to say, I would have considered my understanding of spirituality sparse, let alone my understanding of the role of spirituality in health and mental health. I completed 2023 with a newfound appreciation of how significant an individual’s spiritual life upon their wellbeing really is.   

The Spirituality and Diversity discussions are a series of monthly, facilitated reflective sessions on various themes relating to the role of spirituality in mental health and wellbeing. I am truly grateful for being welcomed to this team, who have a wonderful way of sharing their understanding on a topic that they feel passionately about. More than this, it has been incredibly insightful hearing from participants, whose unique notions, reflections, and questions, deepened my awareness of the breadth and diversity that exists within this nuanced space.  

As a psychiatry registrar nearing the end of my training, I am in the process of considering how I want my practice to look in the future. It is projects like this that really forefront the importance of seeing patients as unique individuals requiring a holistic approach to their mental health and wellbeing. Our internal worlds and external contexts are integral to how we experience mental illness, and are sources of strength, may even perpetuate challenges, but always hold incredible complexity. An individual’s spirituality is one of many facets in this picture and psychiatry, as a medical field, cannot address this in a silo. My work on this project has been a humbling journey in realising this.

In 2024 the Spirituality & Diversity Discussion project will welcome a new Registrar, Sangita Raj joining Justin, Abie, Rohan and Jenny with plans to get underway with the following offerings: 

Tuesday 13 February: Is this a spiritual emergence or a mental health crisis? 

Tuesday 12 March: Medicate or contemplate: The time constraints of the system. 

Published 25th January 2024