Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico
Faith&MH_23Jun22 ;

Perspectives on Religion and Spirituality in coping with Mental health (PRiSM) project

London Stories
Sanchika Campbell

PhD Student, ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health

10 June 2022

Our intention is to challenge traditional knowledge production through a participatory research approach, where we aim to inspire how mental health support can be improved in Black Majority Churches and faith communities, and how healthcare providers consider and include religious beliefs in healthcare services.

PhD student: Sanchika Campbell

PhD supervisors: Professor Stephani Hatch & Dr Charlotte Woodhead

Community co-researchers: Denise Richards, Rev. Gail Thompson and Winston Webber

Colleagues who have contributed: Nathan Stanley, Dr Chanelle Myrie, Anna-Theresa Jieman, Dr Juliana Onwumere

PRiSM project is embedded within the PhD titled ‘Religion, religious coping and mental health among members from Black Majority Churches in south-east London’. It is nested within the ‘Marginalised Communities’ research programme within the ESRC Centre for Society & Mental Health (CSMH) at King’s College London.



Religion is often neglected by mainstream psychology, although approximately 90% of the world’s population take part in some form of religious or spiritual practice. South-East London is home to a multicultural population, where less privileged individuals and communities are affected by ongoing health and social inequalities.

Faith is an important part of life for many racialised minority groups. Religious coping and religious advisors are important in supporting the mental health needs of faith communities, particularly in Black Majority Churches. There has been a notable rise in the number of Black Majority Churches in London over recent years. Projects such as ON TRAC, led by Dr Louisa Codjoe have inspired dialogues between Black faith communities and mental health services to provide holistic and culturally accessible care (Codjoe et al., 2019). At present we still have limited understanding of why faith and involvement in Black Majority Church activity is such an important part of life among heterogenous Black ethnic groups, and how this is related to mental health and help-seeking.

Codjoe, L., Barber, S., & Thornicroft, G. (2019). Tackling Inequalities: A partnership between mental health services and black faith communities.  Journal of Mental Health, 28 (3), 225 228. doi: 10.1080/09638237.2019.1608933

Our ethos

Our PRiSM ethos is to work in an inclusive and respectful manner. We do not support any discrimination e.g., homophobia, as this is against our group ethos and values. You can find out more by downloading our ethos document.

Purpose of the PRiSM project

The purpose of this project is to understand the role of religion and spirituality in coping with adversity, and its relationship to mental health and help-seeking among members from Black Majority Churches in South-East London using a participatory research approach. 

This project involves community members as co-researchers as part of a participatory research approach. This means that community members and researchers work together to explore a topic or issue, and together seek solutions. Understanding of a community's experience should come from the community itself. This approach is committed to meaningfully involve and empower the voices of marginalised or less often heard communities.

Community co-researchers are people who steer and conduct research through their lived experience of the issue/topic being studied. Community co-researchers identifying as Christian and from Black ethnic backgrounds, have contribute their lived knowledge, expertise and viewpoints around faith and mental health to guide key interview questions in the project. Along with relevant colleagues, they have deepened understanding and interpretation of interview findings, faith and Black mental health. Within PRiSM, we have co-produced actionable insights (key messages) for healthcare providers in how they should consider and respect religious beliefs in healthcare services, and for Black Majority Churches and faith communities to better support members’ mental health.

This project aims:

  1. To explore Black Majority Church membership, religious identity, religious coping, cultural concepts of mental health, and help-seeking among clergy and congregants within two Black Majority Churches in South-East London, through in-depth interviews.

  2. To examine the association between religious involvement and religious coping with mental health and help-seeking, using data from the South East London Community Health (SELCoH) study.

  3. To work with community co-researchers to co-produce actionable insights for faith communities and healthcare providers.

 Full ethical approval for the project has been received from the KCL, Psychiatry, Nursing and Midwifery Research Ethics Subcommittee, Reference Number: HR-19/20-17473.

PRiSM Events

PriSm_4Nov22_final version

The PRiSM dissemination event Faith and mental health: why one size does not fit all”, was an in-person interactive event, themed around ‘my local area’, as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences 2022:

We held this event to provide an opportunity for mental health professionals and members of faith communities, particularly those from Black Majority Churches (BMCs), to come together to talk to each other so we can together, better support local mental health. Our hope was for the event to spark necessary conversations to bridge the long-standing divide between medicine and faith/spirituality in the UK. Through the event, attendees had the opportunity to learn from the experiences of community researchers in PRiSM, to share their own experiences around faith and mental health, and to engage in small group discussions around which PRiSM actionable insights to prioritise, and how we can respect faith and cultural beliefs to improve the experiences of those seeking mental health support in South-East London.

Find out more

Explore the actionable insights developed for our event. If you require a non-pdf version, please email

CSMH: Partnering for Change Festival (June 2022)

As part of the CSMH’s 2022 Festival ‘Partnering for Change’, we celebrated an active research partnership, co-learning from an intersectional and intergenerational understanding of knowledge, and across intersections of religious and cultural identities, age, gender, migration experiences, and lived experiences of mental health.

Through a project engagement event within the ‘Partnering for Change’ festival, our PRiSM research team raised awareness on issues that matter to them around faith and mental health as part of a panel discussion. Through an interactive workshop, we then sought to apply knowledge in partnership with session participants, to inspire our final co-produced messages within the project, and help to direct future research to improve support for Black mental health. We engaged with a diverse group of people, including those who may have power to lead discussions in their own communities/organisations. Learning from workshop discussions and participant feedback were integrated within the co-production process, to inform the finalised actionable insights and PhD process.


Visual minutes of our engagement event (image above) were illustrated by Federica Ciotti.

Support services

A list of support services have been complied as part of the project and is free to access: support services.

For further information, please contact Sanchika Campbell (PhD student):

Spirituality, religious belief and inclusive Faith communities are important for mental well-being but mental health practitioners have few guidelines for acknowledging these issues when working with service users. Spirituality, values, policy-making and research has gathered together and explored the place of spirituality in mental health, teasing out its implications for good practice.– Reflections on the PRiSM project by researcher Revd. Gail Thompson
Without a doubt, I have found involvement with the project quite rewarding. It confirms my desire of the need for Mental Health programs to be an integral part of church programs. My partnership, as an Evangelist, together with professionals in mental health research has been of great value to me. It has reinforced my aspiration to be more knowledgeable and professionally trained in mental health awareness to enhance my Evangelical and Pastoral assistance to parishioners with mental health issues. As a group, we worked very well together in spite of the rather wide range in age and experience in life and careers. The project confirms my 'suspicion' that even with all the good Will of Church leaders, they need training in Mental Health to better support their parishioners. PRiSM is a step in the right direction towards a coordinated and lasting partnership between Faith and Mental Health. What could be done differently? Organising most sessions in person, i.e. face to face. My hope looking forward beyond this project is for there to be a close collaboration between the NHS/Health professionals and Church faith leaders.– Reflections on the PRiSM project by researcher Evangelist Winston Webber.

Find out more

Explore the project in our downloadable project booklet. If you require a non-pdf version, please email

Sanchika logos

Team Bios

Sanchika Campbell

Sanchika Campbell is a PhD student within the Marginalised Communities programme at CSMH and a member of HERON and the HIRG since 2013. She is supervised by Professor Stephani Hatch and Dr Charlotte Woodhead. Sanchika is the PRiSM project lead. Within her positionality as a Christian, South Asian migrant in south-east London, her faith is an integral part of her life and identity. She has observed the importance of faith as an essential part of coping with everyday life amongst family and friends who attend Black Majority Churches. Her clinical experience and research experience from SELCoH, alongside her personal and contextual experience of living in South-East London has channelled her focus on the PRiSM project. She hopes the project catalyses understanding, respect and action around faith, coping and Black mental health. She also hopes shifts in knowledge production mean that racialised minority community members can have a direct say (and be listened to), in what matters most to them for better mental health.

Denise Richards

Denise Richards is an independent community researcher, with 15 years of experience. She joined the PRiSM project as she feels mental health, trauma and the root causes of behaviours need to be fully understood and better recognised across healthcare services and churches. Over the past 18 months, Denise has continued to work behind the scenes and with various organisations and projects. Her vast lived experience and interactions within the community has now positioned her as an Advocate for those under the Mental Health system, within her local hospital. Not only is this a great achievement, but also acknowledges the voice of the community, to which she has always been so passionate and committed. Her devoted faith has also made an impact on being able to have conversations with church leaders around Mental Health issues within the community and even within their establishments. Denise found this the most challenging aspect, as the stigma and limited understanding/acceptance, was always dismissed.

Revd. Gail Thompson

Revd. Gail Thompson is the founder and CEO of Millennium Community Solution CIC. She is committed to serving her community, including running many community projects in Lambeth. She joined the PRiSM project as she felt the aim to move away from the extractive model of social research, and the empowering of the community approach to affect positive change by participation and lived experience, was a great opportunity. She is now studying for her PhD and will be releasing her autobiography Black Foot Forward in late 2022

Winston Webber

Evangelist Winston C Webber is a Theologian, a Development Economist, an Accredited Preacher at South London Mission Bermondsey and a Community Worker. As an Evangelist, Winston supports people with mental health issues but does not always feel well equipped to support them. Winston’s involvement with the PRISM project is to see how churches could be enabled to assist members of their congregation with mental health issues. Winston suffered from depression and anxiety during the Rebel War in Sierra Leone and when he first arrived in the UK as a Political Refugee and Asylum Seeker in 1998. Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in 2011, Winston has survived it after successful robotic surgery in 2012. He is developing a Men's Awareness Programs especially for those with mental health issues after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Professor Stephani Hatch

Professor Stephani Hatch leads the Health Inequalities Research Group (HIRG) at King's College London and co-leads the Marginalised Communities programme, including the CONNECT study at the ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health CSMH, KCL. Stephani has over 25 years of experience across sectors, locally and nationally, delivering interdisciplinary health inequalities research with an emphasis on race at the intersection of other social identities. She is Principal Investigator for the TIDES study and co-leads and co-leads the development of the Health and Social Equity Collective, funded by King’s College London and Impact on Urban Health. Stephani integrates collaborative approaches to knowledge production and dissemination, action and outreach in training and research through HERON, which she founded in 2010. She also leads equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives and has national and international advisory roles in health and volunteer and community sectors, including as a member of the NHS RHO Board. She is Sanchika’s primary PhD supervisor.

Dr Charlotte Woodhead

Dr Charlotte Woodhead (she/her) is a Lecturer in Society and Mental Health, within the Marginalised Communities programme at CSMH. She is a co-Principle Investigator for the HSE Collective, leads the STEP study, and also co-leads work within the CONNECT study, TIDES study and the HIRG. As a mixed methods researcher, Charlotte's interests are in understanding social/structural determinants of mental ill health; how and when people’s mental health is influenced by the social world; and where intervening might have the most positive influence. Charlotte is also interested in increasing equity of access to, mental health support for young adults, LGBTQ+, low income and racial and ethnic minority groups. She is Sanchika’s secondary PhD supervisor.

Nathan Stanley

Nathan Stanley is a Research Assistant at KCL for the TIDES study, which aims to aim to understand how discrimination contributes to inequalities in health and health services. He is also a core team member of the Health and Social Equity Collective and a volunteer with Reach Society, a social enterprise that aims to inspire and encourage young people, especially Black boys to realise their potential. Nathan joined PRiSM because as a young Black person of faith, he feels there is great benefit in investigating the role faith and faith-based organisations have in coping with mental illness, given the clinical misinterpretations of what spirituality and religion means for members of the Black community. He hopes PRiSM sparks conversations within Black Majority Churches, and the wider community when it comes to mental health. He also hopes 

Anna-Theresa Jieman

Anna-Theresa Jieman is a PhD candidate at QMUL. Her collaborating partners are Black Thrive Lambeth and Catalyst 4 Change Birmingham, and the NIHR Applied Research collaboration, North Thames, has adopted the project. Drawing on the framework of intersectionality in general and the Strong Black woman schema, Anna’s PhD project (Black Women’s Identity and Depression study(BWID)) investigates how and why gender and race might work together to shape the experience, treatment and outcomes associated with depression among Black women. The project is guided by an advisory group of Black women with lived experiences of depression and practitioners that have worked with Black women. Anna joined PRiSM for its community engagement approach and to collaborate with like-minded researchers. She hopes the project starts partnerships between clinicians, church leaders and policymakers so religious/spiritual coping might be considered in mental health practice.

Dr Chanelle Myrie

Dr Chanelle Myrie is the lead psychologist at STEP, a service which supports people experiencing their first episode of psychosis in Southwark. She has previously led a range of psychological services, including a service facilitating access to psychological support for people from ethnically marginalised communities. Chanelle has previously worked as an Academic Tutor on a Clinical Psychology Doctoral training course, supervising theses on first episode psychosis and Black mental health. Chanelle is particularly interested in facilitating access to therapeutic interventions for those that are ethnically marginalised, and rectifying barriers to meaningful interventions. Chanelle is involved in analysing interviews within the PRiSM project.

Dr Juliana Onwumere

Dr Juliana Onwumere is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience King’s College London. She is also a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK. Her complementary research and clinical

interests focus on the intersectionality of mental health problems, family relationships, and health across the lifespan. She is interested in caregiving relationships affected by violence and the interface between mental

and physical health. Juliana has a growing interest in health inequalities particularly in racial and ethnic minority groups. Her work includes the development of evidence-based psycho-social interventions and workforce training and supervision initiatives to support their increased access by underserved groups. She developed the first massive open online course (MOOC) designed for carers of people with psychosis and schizophrenia:

In this story

Sanchika  Campbell

Sanchika Campbell

PhD student

London Stories

Showcasing some of the ways in which the King’s community is working side-by-side with the capital, its organisations and its people to fulfil our role as a civic university at the heart of…

Latest news