© The National Spirituality and Mental Health Forum, 1996-
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The Forum was created following work exploring the relationship between religion and mental health initiated by the former Health Education Authority. After the establishment of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) the Forum began under the auspices of Mentality at the offices of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health which acted as its secretariat.
The Forum was established in 1996 and gained a whole new dimension following the 9/11 destruction of the twin towers in New York. At the time NIMHE was being created by the government as the vehicle for delivering modern mental health services and its Chief Executive – Anthony Sheehan – in conversation with Peter Gilbert (the National Lead for Social Care) established spirituality as a stream within the NIMHE Programme. Like many others they were aware of the vulnerability of Moslems living in this country following the 9/11 disaster. There was a twin concern both for Islamic spirituality and its proper articulation and the mental health of the Islamic faith community.
Independent Registered Multi-
As an independent charity meetings have since taken place every two to three months and are held at different secular, religions/faiths premises. Presentations are made by service providers, carers, and users of services. The meetings allow exchanges between representatives of the various faiths and beliefs, and those of no particular religious affiliation; mental health professionals, service users, carers, chaplains, educators and others who attend from all parts of the Country. We hope that all who participate gain much from their involvement.
The need to improve understanding and harmony between the different faith communities and those of no faith has been well recognised and this is considered an important part of the Forum's remit. The Forum facilitates the necessary interaction to take place, whilst at the same time providing material from presentations and debate for the further study of spirituality in medical schools, universities and other educational and training establishments.
Evident through many a Forum debate, it would seem that today for most people of all faiths, even through prayer, the line of communication with God, or the "Life Force" has become distant and unapproachable. Present day society's rational intellect has caused many to reject simplistic concepts of "God" or the "Life Force". Rather than trying to find a mature, realistic adult relationship with that which appears to exercise such control over our lives, most people just find it easier to ignore or reject God's, his, her or its, existence. In fact a large number of the members of our secular society would be embarrassed to discuss their true beliefs.
The Forum recognises the need to respect ethical codes of practice, the importance of inter-
To some extent spirituality shortens the distance between ourselves and whomsoever or whatsoever created us, it is a form of telecommunication between our minds, bodies and "God" or that "Life Force". Whatever interpretation one may place on it, spirituality is the breath of life within us, life's energy which enables us to see and enjoy things, and gives us the strength to overcome life's difficulties.
In Service to Those in Need
The main purpose of the Spirituality Forum is to benefit service users of mental health services from all ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds and those of no particular religion in the UK and to promote a more holistic approach to their recovery. Coupled with this prime motive, to support carers and all engaged in the provision of mental health services.
All faith communities have their own specific needs and there is a very important role that their chaplains and lay chaplains have to play in supporting people through their periods of mental distress. The Forum provides a centre for debate and the essential exchange of views. The Mental Health Chaplains Group affords chaplains with further understanding of spirituality and support. The Forum is where chaplains can also hear first hand accounts and case studies from around the Country from service users, carers and mental health professionals; where they can be informed and where they can inform others so as to ensure a better understanding of the needs, and the important role which chaplains play in support of other members of the mental health teams.
The Forum's Growth -
When the Department of Health closed down the HEA and created NIMHE in 2000, the Forum became a good sounding board and support to the NIMHE (National Institute of Mental Health in England) Spirituality and Mental Health National Project. The Project was led by the late Professor Peter Gilbert, NIMHE Fellow and Professor in Spirituality and Social Work at Staffordshire University. As the National Project developed dialogue for the implementation of spirituality in mental health services, so too has liaison and interest increase with the Forum.
Education and Training
In November 2006 the Forum joined CSIP/NIMHE, Professor Peter Gilbert and the host University of Staffordshire in jointly convening the first ever University Symposium on Spirituality in Healthcare. The Symposium was held at Stafford and involved representatives all of the Government-
Following the previous successful symposium a second was held in January 2008 jointly convened and supported by this Forum and NIMHE / CSIP. As many will know, CSIP has also now been disbanded, with regional divisions of the Programme being managed under the auspices of Regional SHAs and smaller regional teams taking different forms in different areas of the country. The DH recognised the important role played by NIMHE and set up its successor, the NMHDU (National Mental Health Development Unit) in April 2009 with six main programmes of mental health work.
The Forum applied for a DofH grant to co-
The Forum provokes much food for thought, and is a paradigm for the future development and recognition of spirituality as an essential part in recovery from physical, as well as mental illness. Finally, at a time of communal unrest between certain faiths and beliefs, the Forum considers it even more important to prove by its actions how well communities from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds can work together; recognising and respecting their differences, whilst forming bonds of friendship and co-
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|Dr. Yvette Arthur|
|Dr. Martin Aaron|
|Amrich Singh Ubhi|
|Prof. Kate Loewenthal|
|Dr. Hilary Garraway|
|The Venerable Arthur Hawes|
|Canon Ivor Moody|
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