Friday, 21 September 2012

Spirituality and mental illness

Spirituality is repeatedly found to be an important component of a person’s well-being. Despite this, people’s spiritual needs are often seen to be neglected during treatment and in developing and managing care plans for day-to-day activities, and even in some cases seen to be part of the individuals’ psychosis or delusions.

What is spirituality?

Spirituality may be seen in a broad sense as the meaning and purpose that people seek within their lives, and it should ideally give to an individual, a sense of their own worth and value. Spirituality can help individuals to develop inner strength and peace, and places importance on hope and optimism. Spiritual practices may include:
  • Belonging to a faith community
  • Meditation and prayer
  • Living by a set of codes; such as in your personal relationships with family and friends, or how you treat others generally
  • Emphasis on spiritual values: honesty, kindness, hope and compassion etc
The role that spirituality can have for people with mental health problems is being increasingly researched and discussed by healthcare professions and communities. Raised awareness comes from the increasing amounts of research that is been completed by organisations such as the Special Interest Group on Spirituality (Royal College of Psychiatrists).

Are spirituality and religion the same?

Window (viewed from inside)
No - spirituality can be seen to be more general and inclusive in its nature, while religion is seen to be more specific and linked with a particular faith tradition or institution, and a belief in a god.

Spirituality can occur without specific guidance, such as through living by codes personally important; whereas to follow a religion may be seen to involve accepting some level of guidance or practices from the religion that is being followed in the search for a god.
For example certain foods may not be eaten by those in some religions, whilst others require followers to participate in set actions at set times (mass on a Sunday, or prayers at certain time of the day.)

Rethink Advice & Information Service factsheets

The information in this section is taken from the RAIS factsheet, which you can download in pdf format and print for individual use.

Spirituality And Mental Illness

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