Religion, religious coping and mental health among Black ethnic groups in south-east London

PhD project – Sanchika Campbell

PhD Supervisors: Professor Stephani Hatch & Dr Charlotte Woodhead

Using a participatory research approach, this project aims to bring the voice of Peer Researchers from the community to inspire change in how healthcare providers consider and include religious beliefs in healthcare services.


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 ethnic minority groups. Religious coping and religious advisors are important in supporting the mental health needs of faith communities, particularly in Black Majority Churches. But we know little about the role of faith and religious coping with adversity among UK ethnic and migrant groups. This is despite a notable rise in the number of Black Majority Churches in London over recent years.  

Purpose of the project

The purpose of this project is to understand the role of Christian faith and religious coping in dealing with adversity, and its relationship to emotional well-being and help-seeking among Black ethnic groups in South-East London. This project involves community members as Peer 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. This approach is committed to meaningfully involve and empower the voices of marginalised or less often heard communities.

Peer Researchers are people who steer and conduct research through their lived experience of the issue/topic being studied. Peer Researchers, representing Christians from Black ethnic backgrounds, will contribute their lived knowledge, expertise and viewpoints around faith and mental health produce together key messages around the project’s findings.

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.
  2. To look at the association between religiosity and religious coping with mental health and health service use using data from the South East London Community Health (SELCoH) study.
  3. To work with Peer Researchers to reflect on the project’s findings and co-produce key messages.

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.

The project is nested within the ‘Marginalised Communities’ research programme within the Centre for Society & Mental Health (CSMH) at King’s College London.

This project has the potential to provide a richer understanding around the role of Christian faith, mental health and help-seeking among Black ethnic groups. This understanding can guide how local healthcare services should consider faith and cultural diversity in planning services for people living in the area, and to promote mental health awareness and help-seeking in religious communities.  

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):