Service User Views of Mental Health Spiritual and Pastoral Care Chaplaincy Services


  • Emily Wood Sheffield University
  • Sally Ross Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Julian Raffay University of Cardiff
  • Andrew Todd Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge Theological Federation



mental health, recovery, spiritual care, service user experience, chaplains


The aim of this research was to study the needs of mental health service users using spiritual and pastoral care, and to further inform an upcoming feasibility study to investigate spiritual care provision. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with mental health inpatients to assess their views of their spiritual strengths and needs. Framework analysis was based on the analysis used in a previous study with consideration for emergent themes coming from a more diverse population. Thirteen participants reflected different faiths and denominations. Overall, participants held religious views of the definition of spiritual care, but also valued highly the pastoral aspects of being listened to by a compassionate person with time to be with them. Some specific religious needs were highlighted. Most participants supported extending the chaplaincy provision. Key themes from a previous study recurred with the participants. Service users valued chaplaincy for chaplains’ skill in listening and providing choice, in that the option to engage in religious or spiritual practice was available but not pushed.

Author Biographies

  • Emily Wood, Sheffield University

    Dr. Emily Wood, PhD, RN is a Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield.

  • Sally Ross, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust

    Rev. Sally Ross is Head of the Chaplaincy Department at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

  • Julian Raffay, University of Cardiff

    Rev. Dr. Julian Raffay DThM, is Director of Chaplaincy Studies at St Padarns College.

  • Andrew Todd, Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge Theological Federation

    Rev. Dr. Andrew Todd, PhD, is Senior Lecturer and Director of the Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology at Anglia Ruskin University and the Cambridge Theological Federation.


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How to Cite

Wood, E., Ross, S., Raffay, J., & Todd, A. (2021). Service User Views of Mental Health Spiritual and Pastoral Care Chaplaincy Services. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 9(2), 216–230.