Spirituality may seem like an odd way to help work with symptoms of mental health disorders or difficulties in general. We’re finally coming together as a society to recognize mental health issues as true health issues, no different from physical health. After all, the brain is part of the body! However, there are many ways in which spirituality can help benefit us in taking care of our mental health. As Your Sober Solutions shares, there are many great faith-based addiction treatment centers. Mindfulness was once considered a totally alternative treatment, and is now gaining popularity in the psychological and psychiatric communities.
Many spiritual programs offer some method of social connection. Whether it’s a church fellowship, the community of recovering individuals in twelve-step, or a sangha in Buddhism, many spiritual paths incorporate some sort of social aspect. Research repeatedly suggests that strong social relationships promote both physical and mental health, regardless of education, socioeconomic status, and gender. Connecting with a spiritual community in recovery from mental health disorders can help us not feel so alone, provide a supportive community, and give us a sounding board.
Working with a spiritual program can help give individuals some direction in their recovery. This can often compliment the path toward wellness laid out in sessions with trained clinicians. Many spiritual traditions offer a path which people may trudge in order to work toward help. With mental health disorders, we may become stagnant. Taking action is hard when we’re suffering, and we may not know exactly what action to take. Engagement with spiritual life offers us a direction in which we can go in these moments. Although it may not “cure” a mental health disorder, spirituality gives us a way to move forward.
A Wholesome Purpose
One of the great things about spirituality is that it gives us a sense of purpose. Many of us go about our days without a sense of deeper purpose, and spirituality offers a connection with something greater. Whether you’re seeking to better your relationship with a god, working toward nirvana, or cultivating present-time awareness, a spiritual tradition can give you a deeper purpose. This sense of purpose can help individuals motivate and work toward health.
The Dangers of Spirituality as Mental Health Treatment
On the other hand, there are some dangers of incorporating spirituality into mental health treatment. The major risk here is that people may not seek appropriate clinical help as they believe their religion or spiritual program will fix them. There is the often over-exaggerated examples of Christian scientists who refuse to go to doctors in favor of traditional Christian practices of healing. Others may turn toward meditation or mindfulness to help deal with mental states, only to find themselves triggered or activated. One solution here is to seek professional advice in addition to your spiritual program, and remaining open to new options.
There is also the problem of spiritual programs offering a solution to mental health disorders that may not be entirely based in science. A great example of this can be found in twelve-step programs. Although millions of people help treat substance use disorder via these helpful programs, they simply don’t work for everyone. There are many aspects of the program that are useful, but modern psychology has found that there may be other treatment options that are more beneficial. However, twelve-step is still often touted as the best method of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
Spirituality can help us greatly in our recovery from mental health disorders, but we must be careful. There are trained professionals who specialize in working with these experiences, and we can utilize the opportunities we have. Many people find it beneficial to supplement their clinical care with spiritual life, and perhaps open-mindedness is one of the most useful qualities we can cultivate.