Good mental health is as important as good physical health—if not more. Your mental health can affect every aspect of your life, from your relationship with others to your feelings about yourself and your place in the world, to the future you build for yourself.
Doctors and psychiatrists have long overlooked spirituality in terms of mental health, thinking that religion or beliefs really had nothing to do with it. More and more, though, they’re realizing they left a major element out of their evaluation, as well as their treatment recommendations—spirituality.
The Research is Eye-OpeningFor the longest time, psychiatrists did not think spirituality had that much to do with a patient’s problems or progress. New studies, however, are showing a very strong connection. Scientists are finding that, not only those who are more spiritual aware and active less likely to suffer from certain mental health problems, but they are also at an advantage when it comes to improving.
One advantage for a spiritual person is that they are more likely to find peace and joy in life itself.While findings are far from conclusive, as this is an area that is just beginning to get serious attention from the medical field, there is hope that more research will be done. In the meantime, more health care providers are starting to take their patients spiritual lives and needs into account.
Comfort and JoyOne advantage for a spiritual person is that they are more likely to find peace and joy in life itself. They see a grander scheme to things-- they see themselves as a piece of a greater puzzle, and this does seem to bring some comfort and contentment with their lives.
Even when things are bad, they find this something they can hold on to in order to get through the tough times. Life has meaning and purpose.
It Doesn’t Always WorkThere are cases in which spiritual beliefs are found to be more of a detriment than a help. Generally, people who follow religions that are highly dogmatic and negative are worse off than non-spiritual people. Some religions tend to promote spiritual beliefs that are more related to guilt, shame, punishment and other such negative concepts. This can not only make a person more depressed and distressed, but it can also impede recovery.
It’s the more positive spiritual beliefs that give hope to people, that make them feel they have something better to live for and look forward to, that are beneficial.
Further, there are mental illnesses that are unavoidable due to there being a chemical imbalance, some type of illness or trauma. Just becoming spiritual is not going to cure someone of a physiological or biological illness.
Spirituality as a Tool for ImprovementWhen a spiritual person is suffering from mental health issues, spirituality should not be seen as a cure. It can be taken into account in the treatment. It’s something the health care provider can work with the patient to use. If the spiritual beliefs are positive and hopeful, they can be a great focus for someone struggling with mental health issues.
A patient might focus on a beneficial practice such as meditation. He may donating his time to charity to help others who are more in need, thus feeling better about himself and the world. He may join a positive, like-minded spiritual community so that he can find support. It’s not a cure, but spirituality definitely gives the patient and health care provider avenues to explore.