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Religions and health

Religions and health in United Kingdom

Hospitals and healthcare
In the United Kingdom, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own systems of private and publicly funded healthcare. However, in all these (...)

Hospitals and healthcare

In the United Kingdom, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own systems of private and publicly funded healthcare. However, in all these countries, public healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS) is free, and constitutes the vast majority of hospitals and overall health care provision. In the private sector, some private hospitals are business enterprises and some are non-profit-making trusts, such as religious or charitable organisations.

Chaplaincy

Religious and spiritual healthcare provision can also be found within the NHS in the form of chaplaincy. Chaplains are salaried NHS employees who usually work in multidisciplinary collaboration with other NHS healthcare providers. The work of the chaplain embodies the spiritual, pastoral and religious care associated with these needs found in the healthcare setting. The vast majority are Anglicans, while others are from the Roman Catholic, Free churches or other faiths. They are recruited in proportion to the belief patterns of the local population.

Religious symbols

Staff working in NHS hospitals can wear religious symbols, but are not permitted to proselytise. According to the guidelines for NHS staff “Cultural dress codes based on religion or belief should be considered sympathetically unless there are justifiable reasons, such as health and safety issues, for not permitting certain items of clothing”. In January 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the NHS when a nurse in Exeter who was asked not to display her cross necklace on the grounds that the necklace breached health and safety guidelines, accused her NHS employers of religious discrimination.

See also : Manchester health and care commissioning, ‘Faith and Health’, Manchester City Council, 2018.

D 14 March 2013    AIngrid Storm

Religion, Mental Health and Wellbeing

Religious organisations are making important contributions to addressing challenges of mental health and personal wellbeing: from offering welfare services and support to befriending and (...)

Religious organisations are making important contributions to addressing challenges of mental health and personal wellbeing: from offering welfare services and support to befriending and campaigning for better social care. In a survey published by the Church of England and the Church Urban Fund, mental-health problems were one of the biggest social issues. The proportion of the senior clergy who think that mental health is a serious issue in their community rose from 40% in 2011 to 60% in 2018. FaithAction has been exploring faith groups’ responses to loneliness, social isolation and integration. Earlier this year they launched a report ‘Right up your Street’ which offered examples of good practices and called for stronger collaboration between faith groups and public services.

Over the last two years, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) promoted a series of events to address issues of mental health and elderly care. In 2017 and 2019, they put together interactive training sessions for imams, chaplains, community leaders and mosque committee members. Some of the sessions included how to recognise and prevent mental health challenge, understand Muslim approaches to mental health and provide support on both individual and community levels.

In August 2019, the MCB launched its report, entitled ‘Elderly and End of Life Care: for Muslims in the UK’ in collaboration with the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge. The report examines perspectives from the elderly, carers and health professionals and outlines the statutory responsibilities of public bodies, particularly in how to tackle loneliness and isolation. It seeks to convey the guiding religious values while stressing the urgency of collaboration between the public bodies and faith-based organisations. It highlights the work done by mosques and voluntary associations within Muslim civil society together with health authorities and specialist agencies and calls for the development of stronger partnerships with policy makers.

As these different initiatives highlight mental health issues cannot be handled in isolation but require joint efforts from different parts of civil society including faith and non-faith organisations.

D 7 October 2019    AKatya Braginskaia

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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