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WPA Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry hosts its 4th Global Meeting in Jerusalem

The WPA Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry (R/S & P) recently hosted its 4th Global Meeting on Spirituality and Mental Health in partnership with the Israel Psychiatric Association at the Mishkenot Sha'ananim, Yemin Moshe in Jerusalem.

The meeting, which attracted some 350 delegates from 35 countries, was convened by Prof Haim Belmaker (Israel) and Drs Avdesh Sharma (India) and Peter Verhagen (Netherlands). Keynote speakers included Sister Gayatri Naraine (India), WPA President, Prof Helen Herrman AO (Australia), and Chair of the WPA Section on R/S &P, Prof Alexander Moreira-Almeida (Brazil). In addition, more than 40 poster presentations and 20 oral sessions were also scheduled with a mix of invited speakers and registered participants from across the globe taking part.

One highlight from the Congress was the presentation from keynote speaker, Sister Naraine - Compassion Fatigue: Embracing Spirituality. In it she emphasised the reality of carer burnout, examining its causes and discussing ways in which to counteract it.

WPA President, Professor Helen Herrman AO, referenced the WPA Section on R/S & P’s position statement in her presentation titled Psychiatrists and Community Partners Examine Religion and Spirituality. She talked about how self-care and community-based partners provide the broad base of the pyramid of WHO’s model for mental health services. She noted how this model allows for a strong and extended alliance with faith-based and other community organisations - broadening access to quality mental health and psychiatric care.

Prizes were awarded for the best poster presentations and presented at the closing of the meeting:

o 1st prize – Bruno Paz Mosqueiro. Religion, Spirituality Motivation for Change and Self-efficacy in Crack-Cocaine Brazilian Patients

o 2nd prize – Jeremy Baruch and Kristen Collier. Healing Presence: An Elective ICU Curriculum for Medical Students Based in the Clinical Pastoral Education Training Model

o 3rd prize - Chris Roe. Clinical Parapsychology: The Interface between Anomalous Experiences and Psychological Well-being

During the Congress, the WPA Section on R/S &P also held its Annual General Meeting. The Section used the opportunity to discuss the WPA 2020 elections, the details of its next global meeting, and also some of its key priorities for the coming year including a review of how it is partnering with faith communities, translation of its position statement, its work with national associations and creation of a budget to work to.

Author: Bernard Janse van Rensburg, Secretary WPA Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry (



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