Spirituality means differently for everyone and people can express it in a lot of ways as well. This is an important belief system that helps people maintain a good and healthy mental and physical well-being. This enables a lot of people to be resilient despite having problems in their life. Mental health services and personnel therefore should respect their patient’s need for their spirituality. Spirituality can mean any of the following:
- Faith or religion
- Their journey or direction and meaning to the patient’s life
- How they understand the world and where they see themselves in the world
- belief that there is a divine force or higher being above any individual
- core part of who they are
- connectedness or feeling of being one with the world
- journey for hope, harmony or wholeness
- their own sense that there are more important things in life than the material things
Spirituality may be a wider concept or perception than religion. Some of these spiritual beliefs may be specific for an individual while beliefs that go with religion are mutually shared by a larger group of people, all of whom follow an established teaching. People can express or develop their spirituality through any of the following:
- worship, reading religious texts or prayer
- being involved in a spiritual group or community
- living with certain values
- ritualistic activities like burning incense
- wearing specific garments or eating specific foods
- creative or cultural activities like music or art
- being one with nature
- doing things that develop personal control and self-awareness like yoga or contemplation
- doing physical activities
- voluntary work or friendship
Many people who have spiritual beliefs make these activities as the centre of their lives while thinking that they are not truly spiritual nor do they associate these things with spirituality. To explore and express our spirituality is basic need and a universal right. This is everyone’s right and is included in UK and European laws as it is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Spirituality guards our mental health
Spirituality helps people have a good mental and physical health. It also helps them cope up with stress in their daily routine and it can also keep these people grounded. Inclusive and tolerant spiritual communities also claim to provide valuable friendship and support. There are some evidences that link spirituality and the improvement in people’s physical and mental health but researchers cannot explain how this exactly works.
Spirituality helps people who have mental problems
Spirituality also helps people to deal with periods of mental illness or stress. Spirituality also brings a feeling of connectedness to something bigger and higher than you. It can also provide a means of coping with a problem and to rely with the person’s own resilience and strength. It can also help people to make sense of their experiences and their feelings. Spirituality brings people strength and improves their well-being. Some practices of spirituality can worsen or damage mental well-being because some belief systems are deemed too repressive and that their members are too judgemental. Past traumatic experiences with their spirituality or religion can become a burden for a person with mental problems. Their belief systems may be frightening or disturbing that it leads to a change in their attitudes and a worsened mental state.
Could spirituality be a part of mental health services?
The personnel of a mental health service should respect their patient’s spirituality, as this is a human right. A good mental health service should do the following to accommodate their patient’s spiritual needs:
- recognize their patient’s spirituality as a part of their lives
- gives their patients and staff a chance to discuss about their spirituality
- encourages their patient to tell their staff what they need
- helps their patients express their spirituality
- should be able to utilize a person-centred planning which incorporates the patient’s and the staff’s spiritual needs
People can express spirituality in so many ways. Spiritual beliefs influence the choices that patient’s make about their treatments and how they want to be treated and supported. Taking about the patients’ spiritual needs helps them to see how they can support themselves and accept their problems as a part of their lives. Encouraging patients to search for what is spiritually important to them can be valuable as a strategy because a lot of patients want to discuss about their spirituality.