We are privileged to learn more of Kevin's journey to this place, which he shares in his own words…
My interest in Buddhism began twenty years ago, so to my openness and receptiveness to other religions and spiritualities. This interest has developed an ear for the wisdom and spiritual truths they offer.
The deepening of my spirituality was born out of great mental and emotional suffering over decades. I read the words of the Buddha in a book I was browsing through that said, "the mind is the forerunner of everything". This stopped me in my tracks. At that moment I didn't understand what it meant. However, I experienced a profound feeling, a recognition of a truth.
Over the years my practice deepened, and this led me to volunteer work as an emotional support worker in a hospice. Some years later I trained as a spiritual care practitioner and volunteered in a hospital for 2 years.
I became interested in SHLEAC because I saw an opportunity to contribute to an area in mental health care that's greatly overlooked.
The omitted aspect of people in mental distress, is their spirituality. To not have a person's spirituality considered in their care is to not know the person's most intimate relationship, the relationship with themselves.
If clinicians are working to understand how someone makes meaning of their inner and outer world, and to disregard spirituality is to only want to take into consideration what is salient to the clinician, or that which is learnt in medical school.
The clinicians medical training is essential. However, their training and workload doesn't generally allow them to attend to the deeper healing that needs to take place. A reduction in symptoms is not true healing. True healing requires one to tend to a deeper level. And that deeper level needs a specialized workforce to support the person in crisis to explore their spirituality and the inner resources and the meaning-making faculty they have.
I have also had, like many others, a unique journey through the mental health care systems, and a unique journey of recovery. My spirituality was and is the sustenance that got me through. My Buddhist faith and my natural inclination is to, with courage allow my suffering to take me deeper spiritually. I can notice the alchemy in the present moment with objectivity, connect with my inner world and experience the Universal Whole and how I'm included in that wonder.
I now working as Peer Support Worker Cadet. It has been a transformative experience so far. I'm looking forward to using my unique recovery journey to support others.
SHLEAC formed in June 2021 to raise awareness through leadership, education and consultation of the need, importance, and place of spiritual care in mental health care. SHLEAC will achieve this by contributing to the Victorian Mental Health Reform process via the principles of co-design and co-production. As the host organisation, Spiritual Health Association welcomes the expertise and guidance from the advisory committee members.