Religion, Spirituality and Mental Health

Religion, spirituality and mental health
Simon Dein, Christopher C. H. Cook, Andrew Powell, Sarah Eagger (2010)

Research demonstrates important associations between religiosity and well-being; spirituality and religious faith are important coping mechanisms for managing stressful life events. Despite this, there is a religiosity gap between mental health clinicians and their patients. The former are less likely to be religious, and recent correspondence in the Psychiatric Bulletin suggests that some at least do not consider it appropriate to encourage discussion of any spiritual or religious concerns with patients. However, it is difficult to see how failure to discuss such matters can be consistent with the objective of gaining a full understanding of the patient’s condition and their self-understanding, or attracting their full and active engagement with services.

In his recent editorial in the Psychiatric Bulletin, Koenig1 makes several important points concerning religion and mental health. Research demonstrates largely positive associations between religiosity and well-being.2 Additionally, religion is a prevalent coping strategy in those experiencing adverse life events.3

The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group holds the view that psychiatrists should respect their patients’ religious and spiritual beliefs, and that these beliefs should be given thoughtful and serious consideration in the clinical setting. It is time to move away from the old tendency to see religious and spiritual experience as pathology and towards an appreciation of how religion and spirituality can be conducive to mental health.


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