Spirituality and religion in mental health
Do you want to talk about it? Spirituality and religion in mental health.
Spirituality and religion play an important role in the mental health of many people, but some individuals are hesitant to use them as tools of healing because they feel spirituality and religion are not considered valid therapeutic tools by mental health professionals.
That is not true at all, though; in fact, there are several prominent organizations that support the integration of spirituality and religion into mental health care, including the American Psychiatric Association and the British Psychological Society.
The difference between religion and spirituality
Religion is a belief system, usually associated with a particular community or organization. For example, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam are all religions.
A spiritual path is much more individualized than that. Many people who consider themselves spiritual are not tied down by religious dogma or scripture.
In fact, they may not even belong to an organized faith group at all.
Reaching out to God is not crazy. For centuries, people have turned to prayer during times of crisis.
Whether they believe God can directly intervene or they think prayer is a way to connect with loved ones, many choose religious solutions.
A study published in 2015 revealed that 82 percent of Americans pray during difficult times, suggesting many feel like talking to God could be an effective way of coping with stress.
And some research has shown faith is linked with increased optimism and life satisfaction, so spiritual contemplation might also be an effective preventive measure against depression.
For anyone who is struggling with a difficult situation, whether it is personal or professional. turning to spirituality may be beneficial.
Talking can be healing
Talking to a religious or spiritual leader is one way of exploring life experiences that may have led up to your current situation.
It is important to keep an open mind if you are not sure what path of treatment is right for you.
Your relationship with a religious or spiritual leader should be built on trust, comfort, and confidentiality.
Your first meeting can be a good place for both of you to learn more about each other and answer any questions either one may have before pursuing treatment together.
In addition, some religions promote acceptance when dealing with sickness as well as provide support from community members through faith-based organizations such as churches.
These sorts of supports can contribute greatly in increasing happiness while healing physically or mentally.
Seeking help from a spiritual leader or therapist
Seeking help from a religious leader or a therapist can be an effective way to cope with life stresses.
Religious practices such as meditation and prayer, as well as specific spiritual interventions for depression (such as guided imagery) may be helpful for some people; however, sometimes religious leaders are not trained specifically in psychology or psychiatry.
If you are looking for a mental health intervention that aligns with your values, seek out religious leaders who have received training in psychology or psychiatry.
If you have already seen someone for depression treatment but are not getting results, consider seeking help from a different practitioner.
It is important that any professional treating depression is aware of your own spirituality so they can effectively tailor their approach toward finding holistic solutions that fit within your faith-based community.
Keeping spirituality/religion alive through meditation
A lot of us find that when we are at our lowest point, spirituality or religion becomes what helps us through.
That being said, meditation is important when dealing with mental health issues because it can help ease tension, stress and anxiety.
When combined with other types of therapy or treatment, mindfulness can help patients stay focused during their sessions and work through specific triggers or memories that are haunting them.
Meditation is a great way to focus your thoughts while learning how to cope effectively with your challenges; ultimately helping you manage your symptoms better.
It doesn’t matter if you practice a religion or not, if spirituality helps keep you mentally healthy, there is no harm in incorporating it into your daily life.
Don’t worry, even if your friends don’t understand
People with mental illnesses are often told that seeking treatment is letting a loved one down or that they have no choice but to endure their condition.
A person who suffers from depression is told that if they pray hard enough, go through their day-to-day routine, work out more or call upon their inner strength, they will be able to get over it.
But despite all of these myths and misconceptions, people with mental illness should not be afraid to ask for help.
Mental illness can strike anyone at any time, regardless of age, race or gender.
The brain is an organ just like any other organ; therefore, when something goes wrong in your brain (such as a tumor), then treatment is needed just like other ailments require medical attention.
Asking for help does not make you weak
One of the biggest deterrents when it comes to talking about suicide is that somehow admitting feelings of suicide makes a person weak.
In reality, asking for help shows great strength, as well as a desire for living.
Of course, there are many things that can be said as part of a suicidal conversation.
There is no right or wrong way to have one because every situation is different; however, experts suggest seeking help from your faith leader or counselor if you feel alone or confused by what is happening in your life. You should always feel safe talking with someone even if you don’t know how they might react.