International Network for Study of Spirituality Conference: The Interface of Spirituality and Mental Health Care: A Dialogue with Epistemic Justice

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


In their exploration of ways of knowing, epistemology, and ethics Miranda Fricker (2007) proposed the idea of epistemic injustice, when a person, in their capacity as a knower is wronged. Fricker examines the ways in which epistemic practices are “played out by subjects that are socially situated” (2007, p.viii) and the associated questions of identity and power.
Central to the re-emergence of spirituality in contemporary mental health care is meaning making and the personal, and shared values to which they are attached (Barker and Buchanan-Barker, 2008). This approach is a divergence from solely medically based understandings of mental distress, towards an exploration of how the individual makes sense of their world and their experience of mental distress. In the light of global uncertainty and change spirituality may be important aspects of an individual’s sense of understanding within their experience of mental distress, but these may be overlooked within mental health care.
Epistemic justice offers a lens through which to explore the interface of spirituality and mental health services. Although patient centred approaches have made progress in recognising patients’ voices in mental health services they continue to experience various forms of epistemic injustice (Drozdzowicz, 2021). Despite growing recognition of spirituality in the lives of some individuals and communities there remains an ambivalence to engage with the subject with mental health services. Epistemic injustice is common for mental health service users as they are denied the means to voice their experiences and engage in dialogue that might increase their understanding of their experiences (Crichton et al, 2017; Johnstone, 2021). In this presentation the author explores the interface of service user, mental health services and the acknowledgements of spirituality within the mental health narrative, through the lens of epistemic justice.
Period17 May 2023
Event titleInternational Network for the Study of Spirituality
Event typeConference
LocationWaterford, IrelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational