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There is now good evidence that spirituality and religious faith can be protective factors in helping to sustain patients and improve the outcome.

Taking a short spiritual history can assist psychiatrist and patient alike when considering treatment options, as well as strengthening the therapeutic relationship.

The CPD module exploring spirituality with people who use mental health services is now available to all members of the College. The SPSIG has held meditation workshops at College meetings, and programmes on Mindfulness, with a CPD module under development.

In addition, the SPSIG has contributed to the 2016 World Psychiatric Association Position Statement on Spirituality and Religion in Psychiatry

The SPSIG supports the exploration of such fundamental questions as the purpose and meaning of life, which are so important for mental health; the problem of good and evil; life events invested with spiritual significance, including birth, illness, bereavement, death and the near death experience; mystical and trance states, and spiritual and religious awakening.

Distinguishing between pathological and normal human experience is vital in order to understand better the overlap and the difference between the two.

The membership of the SPSIG has steadily increased over the years and currently stands at over 3600. Twice yearly conferences are held, and the website has over 200 papers on spirituality by psychiatrists that can be downloaded from its publications archive.

The Executive Committee is keen to involve the wider membership in shaping  the further work of the SPSIG. Trainees, in particular, have an important part to play in future developments. The committee would be glad to give support to psychiatrists and trainees interested in running local events or in wider networking.

The aim of the SPSIG is always to affirm the universal nature of spirituality while encouraging diversity that informs and enriches. As valued colleagues, please make your views heard and your presence felt.

Please note that publications by the SPSIG represent the views of individual members or its Executive and do not represent College policy unless specified.

A video about the work of the Special Interest Group Spirituality in Psychiatry for Today’s World is available on YouTube.

The committee has a busy agenda and meets four times a year, its members drawn from a wide range of spiritual and religious affiliations.

Chairs to date

  • Founding Chair Dr Andrew Powell 1999 - 2003
  • Professor Andrew Sims 2003 - 2005
  • Dr Sarah Eagger 2005 - 2009
  • Professor Chris Cook 2009 - 2013
  • Dr Paramabandhu Groves 2013 - 2017
  • Dr Alison Gray 2017 -

The maximum term for elected officers (chair, secretary and treasurer) is 4 years. All other appointments to the committee are non-tenured and by invitation, and the Executive welcomes expressions of interest from members who would wish to play an active role in the planning and running of the special interest group.

Member Year of joining Position
Dr Alison Gray2011 (E)Chair
Dr Lucy Grimwade2015 (E)Secretary
Dr Christopher Findlay2000 (E)Financial Officer
Grace Wood2020 (C)Patient Representative
Dr Andrew Clark2011 (C)Committee Member
Prof Chris Cook2004 (C)Committee Member
Dr Simon Dein2007 (C)Committee Member
Dr Glòria Durà – Vilà2017 (C)Committee Member
Dr Sarah Eagger2000 (C)Committee Member
Dr Chetna Kang2013 (C)Committee Member
Dr Omur Miles2018 (C)Communications Technical Support
Dr Russell Razzaque2013 (C)Committee Member
Dr Hashim Reza2017 (C)Communications Secretary
Dr Rachel Cullinan2018 (C)Committee Member
Dr Rob Waller2019 (C)Committee Member

Next SPSIG meeting

Spirituality and Mental Health: What does the NHS Provide?

Two online half-day events on 4 and 11 December from 9.30am-1.00pm.

Please see the draft programme for further information and book your place now

    Recent conferences

    • Spirituality Special Interest Group 20th Anniversary Conference (November 2019)
    • The Medicalisation of Sadness as Depression- Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group Conference (April 2019)
    • 'Interfaith and Interface: the Contribution of Faith Groups to Mental Health' (March 2016)
    • 'Hallucinations and Spiritual Experience: Voices, Visions and Revelation' (November 2016)
    • 'Silent Prejudice: Stigma, spirituality and mental health' (April 2017)
    • 'Bringing Compassion into Mental Healthcare' (December 2017)
    • Music, Spirituality and Mental Health Care, Friday 9 November 2018, at the Royal College

    The Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group (SPSIG) has established a prize to be awarded to the best entry, or shared between joint best entries, for submissions comprising an original study, research report, review, or essay, on spirituality and psychiatry by a single author.

    The prize has been established to harness and promote interest in spirituality and psychiatry, and to motivate psychiatrists to build up evidence in this area as it relates to patients and practice.

    Prize: £300

    Frequency: Annually

    Eligible: All Members and Affiliates of the College and all medical students


    I. Entries will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

    • The extent to which the essay furthers an understanding of spirituality in relation to psychiatry
    • Awareness of the literature on spirituality and psychiatry
    • Relevance to psychiatric practice and patient care
    • Originality
    • Critical reflective quality

    Submissions that focus particularly on one area should nevertheless have at least some merit under all headings.

    II.     Entries will be no longer than 5000 words and should be submitted electronically where possible, in Word (double spaced).

    III.     Short listing will be the responsibility of the Executive Committee or a panel appointed by them from within the Executive, which will include a senior academic. The Executive Committee reserves the right not to award the prize in any given year if the quality or relevance of the entries is deemed not to be of sufficient merit.

    IV.    The winning entry/entries, and all authors of shortlisted submissions, will be notified by 31 March following. Shortlisted papers will be eligible for publication on the Spirituality Special Interest Group website.

    Closing date:  31 December each year

    Submissions to: Dr Simon Dein at s.dein@ucl.ac.uk.

    Membership of the SPSIG is open only to Members and Associates of the College.

    To join, please complete our online application form or email the College Membership office.

    Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry