Spirituality in mental health is an area of concern being scrutinized as a factor. In recent studies, it is found that spirituality may act as a psychological and social resource for coping with stress. According to researchers, spiritual beliefs mostly represent powerful source of comfort, hope and meaning which can often involve mental health and emotional disorders making it so hard to determine if the effects of spirituality in mental health patients is a resource or a liability. In this essay, I will be looking at some of the research carried out on the effects of spirituality on mental health, with emphasis on how much effects it has on mental health patients whom suffer from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suffering. The effects of spirituality on mental health is a difficult area to deal with which I believe is justifiable and clinically relevant in that from the researches conducted and from my experience while working on different mental health wards as a health carer, it appears that mental health patients whom are spiritually inclined/ filled express positive and quick recovery than whose who are not. This and a lot more reasons have instigated me to do a research on this topic and to find out if spirituality brings any positive or negative implications to mental health for future research and practice in mental health patients whom maybe undergoing stress. An example is the National Service Framework for Mental health acknowledges the need to consider the “spiritual facets of mental health and mental health problems” as part of Standard one – Mental Health Promotion. The standard four and five, (effective services for people with severe mental health illness) This acknowledges the need to include an individual’s spiritual needs in assessment and care planning process. A lot of researchers from various field of disciplines have done a research on spirituality and mental health and admit the important role spirituality can play in helping people maintain good mental health and recover from mental health problems. Many people may see religion and spirituality as separate, while others include religion as part of spirituality. Religious tradition certainly includes individual spirituality, which is universal. But has its own distinct community- based worship, beliefs, sacred texts and traditions. Spirituality can encapsulate a variety of activities that can range from religious activities, such as reading scriptures to non – religious activities such as painting or yoga. Spirituality is not necessarily tied to any religious belief or tradition. Though culture and beliefs can play a part in spirituality, every person has their own unique experience of spirituality. It can be a personal experience for everyone, with or without a religious belief. On balance being spiritual or religious results in more hope and optimism and life satisfaction (Koenig 2009), less depression and faster remission of depression (Koenig 2007, Smith, McCullough and Poll 2003), lower rates of suicide (Van Praag 2009), reduced prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse (Cook, Goddard and Westall 1997) and reduced delinquency (Johnson, Larson and McCullough 2000). Findings in relation to anxiety are mixed. Although some studies demonstrate reduced anxiety rates, others indicate that anxiety levels are heightened in the more religious (Koenig, King and Carson 2012, Shrieve Neiger and Edelstein 2004)). Work on schizophrenia is still embryonic; recent studies however suggest that religious individuals with psychotic illnesses frequently deploy prayer and Bible reading to help them cope with their voices, and higher levels of spirituality or religiosity may increase medication compliance (Mohr et al. 2006, Mohr et al. 2007). Rates of religious delusions in schizophrenia in the UK remain high (Siddle et al. 2002).
Definition of Spirituality
Spirituality has no definite definition, it is an elusive concept that defiles clear definition. It means different things to different people at different times in different cultures and people express their spirituality in various ways.
“It is what is deepest in us- what gives us direction, motivation. It is what enables a person to survive bad times, to be strong, to overcome difficulties, to become themselves”. Spiritual Well- Being: Policy and practice, Bradford 2001.
Spirituality is something everyone can experience. It helps us to find meaning and purpose in the things we value and brings hope and healing in times of suffering and loss. It often becomes more important in times of emotional stress, physical and mental illness, loss, bereavement and the approach of death. Spirituality can influence the healing of the person, not just the disease. It is that motivation a person gets to succeed in hard times or to overcome difficult situations. It views life as a journey where good and bad experience can help you learn, develop and mature.
SPIRITUALITY AND RELEGION
Religion is institutionalized spirituality. Many religions have non-identical sets of beliefs, traditions, and doctrines. They have various types of community-based worship programs. Spirituality is the common factor in all these religions. It is possible that mental health patients whom are religious can lose their spirituality when they become institutions of unjust manner rather than being agents of goodwill, peace and harmony. They can become hostile instead, no unity. History will tell us that this had happened from time to time. It has been said that more blood has been shed in the cause of religion rather than any other cause. The medieval holy wars of Europe; the religion-based terrorism and conflicts of modern times are examples.
People express their spirituality in different ways, they may interpret it as;
• Their religion or faith
• Belief in a higher being or force greater than an individual
• A sense that there is more to life than material things
• A feeling of belonging or connectedness
• A quest for wholeness, hope or harmony
• A core part of their identity and essential humanity
• A way of understanding the world and their place in the world.