Spirituality, Religion and Mental Health
Since science and religion had started to draw apart in European thinking from the 16th century, by the time Western psychology and psychiatry developed, religion had become marginalized in Western academic thinking as so the disciplines that emerged were secular. Ideas about spirituality – a part of the discourse within religion not science – were excluded from both psychiatry and Western psychology as these disciplines strove increasingly to become ‘scientific’ (Fernando, 2007).
The mental health field has a heritage of 100 years of ignoring and pathologizing spiritual experiences and religion (Lukoff, 2000). In 1994, a new diagnostic category ...view middle of the document...
The DSM–V (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) is virtually unchanged from DSM- IV. It notes,“Examples include distressing experiences that involve loss or questioning of faith, problems associated with conversion to a new faith, or questioning of spiritual values that may not necessarily be related to an organized church or religious institution”.
Koenig, McCullough and Larson (2001) states “Religion is an organized system of beliefs, practices, rituals, and symbols designed (a) to facilitate closeness to the sacred or transcendent (God, higher power, or ultimate truth/reality) and (b) to foster an understanding of one’s relationship and responsibility to others in living together in a community”. Although spirituality once centered on religion, it is now contextualized as an individually defined construct, a secular ‘‘search for the sacred,’’ that may or may not involve religion (Pargament, 1999). Spirituality is an expansive, conceptually vague construct without a single widely accepted definition (Koenig, King, & Carson, 2012).Within the context of public mental health services, spirituality is often defined as a process of promoting opportunities for meaningful connections in one’s life, whether these connections are with self, others, nature, or a higher power (California Mental Health and Spirituality Initiative, 2011).
For many clients, spirituality plays an instrumental role in the mental health recovery process (Sullivan, 1998; Fallot, 2001b; Hodge, 2004). Studies indicates that religion and spirituality are important coping strategies in those with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders (Borras, 2007; Weisman de Mamani, et al., 2010; Mohr et at., 2011); predict a faster remission from clinical depression (Propst, 1992; Koenig, 2007); significantly lower the rates of drug and alcohol abuse (The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 2001); enhance recovery and reduce psychiatric symptomatology and suicide (Fallot 1998; Huguelet et al. 2007; Taylor et al., 2011; Koenig et al. 2012; Mohr 2013).
Spirituality and religions problem became getting more clinical attention worldwide, and some new spirituality-infused services projects emerged. For instance, the National Institute for Mental Health in England set up a Spirituality and Mental Health Project in 2001 (Gilbert, 2007), and then developed a spirituality guidelines for practitioners working in acute psychiatric settings; a spirituality quality-improvement project conducted in Vancouver Mental Health and Addiction Services developed a spirituality framework/poster, and engaged the system using strategic spirituality dialogue (Smith et al., 2013); The Los Angeles system of care actively pursues new opportunities to promote community inclusion of consumers through collaboration and connections between mental health agencies and faith-based organizations. In 2012, the Practice Parameters for Spiritual Support (County of Los Angeles DMH,...