07 November 2014

Spiritually Inspiring

Professor Chris Cook was the keynote speaker at AWP's Spirituality and Mental Health Conference on 16 October.

He congratulated everyone for organising and attending one of the biggest conferences of its type that he has attended.

In the first session of the day, a talk entitled 'Spirituality, Theology & Mental Health', Professor Cook noted the rapid increase in published research on spirituality and mental health since the turn of the millennium. He observed that although we are moving away from viewing service users' spiritual or religious beliefs as part of their 'pathology', there is still much work for mental health professionals to do in acknowledging and working constructively with service user's spiritual and religious needs.

'Intelligent Kindness' was the theme for the second session and looked at the culture within the NHS and how things can go wrong without wisdom and compassion - Conference attendees were invited to explore how such naturally-arising human qualities might be fostered in the workplace.

The afternoon provided four workshops presenting perspectives on spirituality and mental health from the Buddhist and Christian traditions; an exploration of voice-hearing; and the service user perspective on the theme of 'from breakdown to breakthrough'.

There was a unanimously positive response from Conference attendees who provided written feedback at the end of the day - 'inspirational' and 'thought-provoking' were two repeated comments. Many suggestions were also put forward for the next conference - however the general tone can be summed up in one attendee's comment: more please!

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