What does spirituality have to do with mental health?

Mental health and spirituality go hand in hand by squidoo.com from google-images.jpg

Mental health and spirituality go hand in hand
by squidoo.com from google-images.jpg

Approximately 18.8 million American adults are affected by depressive disorders, but only half of those seek any help at all, according to mentalhealthscreening.org.

A wide variety of therapies have been developed over the years to deal with depression – from psychotropic drugs to meditation. An ongoing public debate is increasingly questioning the effect of drugs. And, some patients and psychologists are concerned about the side effects on people who do experience improvements but end up dependent on the drugs over long periods of time.

A sincere desire to find solutions has led psychiatrists and researchers to more thoroughly study the role spirituality, religious practices and connection to a community of faith might play in mental wellbeing.

“Spirituality has been referred to as ‘the forgotten dimension’ of mental health care,” comments psychiatrist and author Dr. Larry Culliford from Sussex, England, in his paper, Healing from Within: Spiritualty and Mental Health.  And, according to psychiatrist John M. Grohol, founder and CEO of Psych Central, new research that followed a group of people over 10 years has resulted in affirming that a “strong sense of spirituality or religion” can ward off depression.

Spirituality and psychiatry – on the face of it, they do not seem to have much in common.  But we are becoming increasingly aware of ways in which some aspects of spirituality can offer real benefits for mental health,” reports the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK.

Spirituality, as defined in this report, is something that “helps us to find meaning and purpose in the things we value” and as bringing “hope in times of suffering and loss.”  It also “encourages us to seek the best relationship with ourselves, others, and what lies beyond.”

Becoming connected with our inner selves, or with a higher power that supports our faith, one experiences “better self-control, self-esteem and confidence; faster and easier recovery; better relationships with ourselves, others and with God/creation/nature; and a new and improved sense of meaning, hope and peace of mind.”

Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian healer who researched deeply the relationship between our thinking and our health and the importance of developing a relationship with God, wrote: “Man’s refuge is in spirituality, ‘under the shadow of the Almighty.” (1)

“All health care tries to relieve pain and to cure – but good health care tries to do more.  Spirituality emphasizes the healing of the person, not just the disease,” contends the Royal College.  Spirituality encourages us to not run away from bad experiences but rather to “learn, develop and mature” from them.

The College report offers recommendations as to how we might begin a journey toward better mental health through increased focus on our spirituality.

  1. Regular quiet time for prayer, reflection or meditation
  2. Study of sacred, religious and/or spiritual material
  3. Making supportive friendships with others with similar spiritual and/or religious aims and aspirations

The article continues by pointing to the spiritual values and skills that help develop spirituality and bring to those seeking to overcome mental distress (no matter what form it takes) – honesty, giving and sharing with others, creativity, patience, persistence, kindness, compassion, wisdom, peace, hope and joy.  “These are all part of the best health care.”

  1. Unity of Good, Page 57:7, by Mary Baker Eddy,

Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, Christian Science, science, religion, the importance of prayer in maintaining a healthy mind and body.  She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.  She and her husband enjoy hiking, especially with Callie, a Blue Heeler, and riding motorcycles. 





  1. I love the leavening process of the Christ

    • The leavening process may be disturbing but always enriching and enlightening.
      Thank you Steve for the comment.