The Impact of Spiritual Support in Mental Health Recovery

For millennia, nearly every culture and time period has seen the creation, implementation, and continuation of various philosophies and theologies. As such entire cultures, economically, socially, and sometimes politically, influence how people live their lives.

At the least, it may be acknowledged that there is a certain proclivity within the human spirit towards these ideas, but when looking at religion and spiritual practices through a more deductive lens it can be demonstrated that such ideologies have a place in human health. While those ideologies are not for everyone, and each person has the right to agree or disagree, practice, or abstain from those purposes, it can be shown that there are benefits to be found in those that maintain some form of spiritual practice.

Whether patients with mental health disorders or a faith-based nurse,  spiritual practice can support mental health recovery.

Commonalities Between Spirituality and Religion

Religion and spirituality take many forms and, in turn, can carry different meanings and definitions which are dependent on the individual. However, the variety of spiritual practice does have one thing in common: the positive aspects that such practices have on mental health.

Spirituality may be very generally defined as, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than [oneself], something more to being human that the sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which [mankind] is a part is cosmic or divine in nature.”

Spiritual practice often encompasses and reaches for a sense of order, explanation, and even purpose within the bounds of human existence. More simply put, spiritual practice can bring value, answers, and stability to the uncertainty of purpose in some people’s lives. While it should be pointed out again that religion and spirituality are not the same thing, people who are religious very often maintain spiritual practices, and those who would not categorize themselves as religious can still have spiritual practices.

Regardless of what camp a person finds themselves in, nurses and psychiatrists have shown spiritual practices as having positive effects on people’s lives.

Positive Effects of Spirituality on Mental Health

  • The practitioner may develop a higher, more grounded sense of purpose, meaning, and hope for their existence and thus a peace about personal existence.
  • The explanations offered by various religious or spiritual perspectives tend to provide opinions which help to explain why life occurs in various ways. Human pain and suffering are one of the most common questions which are attempted to be filtered through such perspectives. Many people find some sense of acceptable answers that help to ease pain and suffering.
  • There is very often a stable community that accompanies the participation in spiritual practices. Human connection is deeply purposeful, stabilizing, and grounding — especially for those going through hard times. Additionally, community support helps to create more self-confidence, self-esteem, and discipline that translates into healthier life choices like exercise, laughter, and personal fulfillment.

There is even a psychotherapeutic method known as Spiritually Augmented Cognitive Behavior Therapy which may help treat mental health disorders. There are four areas which practitioners tend to focus on: personal acceptance, hope, forgiveness, and the search for meaning or purpose in life.