About us

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 Gray 2011 (E) Chair
Dr Lucy Grimwade 2015 (E) Secretary
Dr Christopher Findlay 2000 (E) Financial Officer
Dr Andrew Powell 1999 (EO) Committee Member
Jo Barber 2013 (C) Service User Representative
Dr Andrew Clark 2011 (C) Committee Member  
Prof Chris Cook 2004 (C) Committee Member         
Dr Simon Dein 2007 (C) Committee Member
Dr Glòria Durà – Vilà 2017 (C) Committee Member
Dr Sarah Eagger 2000 (C) Committee Member
Dr Nick Hallett 2015 (C) Trainee Representative
Dr Chetna Kang 2013 (C) Committee Member
Dr Omur Miles 2018 (C) Communications Technical Support
Dr Russell Razzaque 2013 (C) Committee Member
Dr Hashim Reza 2017 (C) Communications Secretary
Dr Rachel Cullinan 2018 (C) Committee Member

Next SPSIG meeting

The Conference originally planned for 20 March 2020 (which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic) is provisionally rescheduled to take place on Friday 4 December 2020 at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London.

Spirituality and Mental Health: What does the NHS Provide?

Please see finalised programme for your further information.

  • Suicide through the lens of spirituality Conference on 05 March 2021 at the College in London

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