Redbridge’s mental health trust to discuss the role of faith, spirituality and religion

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 July 2017

Pictured (L to R): Sara Betteridge, NELFT Chaplain/Spiritual Care Advisor, and Mirabai Swingler, NELFT Chaplain/Spiritual Care Team Leader

Pictured (L to R): Sara Betteridge, NELFT Chaplain/Spiritual Care Advisor, and Mirabai Swingler, NELFT Chaplain/Spiritual Care Team Leader


Religious leaders across Redbridge are set to come together in order to discuss their role in promoting mental health and wellbeing.

The conference, which will be led by the spiritual care department of the North East London Foundation Trust, is the first of its kind by the organisation.

Led by Mirabai Swingler, NELFT Chaplain/spiritual care team leader, the day will explore how faith and culture can support mental wellbeing.

Mirabai said she wanted to explore how the stigma around mental health can be broken down across different cultures.

She said: “When people are struggling, they often turn up at places of worship.

“Even people who aren’t religious or spiritual see these places as somewhere you can go to get help.”

Staff from NELFT and religious leaders will consider how the gap between faith communities and mental health services could be bridged.

The community in religious groups means leaders may be able to spot signs that a member of their congregation is struggling, said Mirabai.

She said: “Some training could ensure that people who might not traditionally approach these services can be reached.

“What we want to do is ensure people can access help before they reach crisis point.

“If someone notices something is wrong with someone at their mosque, synagogue, church, and has had some training, this would help.”

The day will consider why some religious and cultural groups are less likely to access mental health services.

It will also look at issues such as spiritual healing, exorcism, and the difference between “spiritual crisis” and “mental illness”.

The aim is to send the message out across the community that there is not just one way of tackling your problems, said Mirabai.

She said: “We can work together.

“It doesn’t have to be one approach - people can receive help from different sources.”

Anyone who is a faith community leader, volunteer, or faith visitor in Waltham Forest, Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge, Havering or Essex can attend the conference.

The event will be at the CEME Centre, West Wing, Marsh Way, Rainham, on August 15.

For more details and to book a place please send an email to or call 03005551077

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