Scientific and Religious Approaches to Mental Health

Much of my work has been on science and religion, particularly psychology and religion.  There are many specific topics to consider from that point of view, but circumstances have led me to focus recently on mental health and wellbeing.

Last September I have an invited talk on that at the conference of the Science and Religion Forum in Lincoln.

It is a topic that the think-tank Theos have recently been focusing on, and I did a blog for them on depression.

The Cambridge Institute for Applied Psychology and Religion is in discussion with Theos about some further collaboration.

Most recently I have a seminar talk on it for the programme on Theology, Spirituality and Health, led by Professor Chris Cook at the University of Durham. The talk can be seen on Youtube.

I have also just finished a journal article to be included in a special section of the journal, Zygon, arising from the SRF conference.

As far as psychosis is concerned I see no incompatibility between the medical approach and a spiritual approach. This is a more controversial position than I realised at first. Richard Bentall has argued powerfully for a psychosocial approach, and against a psychiatric approach. Similarly Isabel Clarke has argued for a spiritual approach rather than a psychiatric approach. In contrast, I think the psychiatric approach needs to be broadened rather then replaced.

I am also keen to probe theological questions about mental health, such as what issues of mental health reveal about a person, and how those problems relate to the purposes of God. I also want to probe what spiritual opportunities arise from problems of mental wellbeing. Such problems can be a source of huge distress, but I hope to see them also become a source of blessing.

– Fraser Watts