• ADHD books published by NorthEast Books & Publishing, by Association for Youth, Children and Natural Psychology
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Spirituality and Mental Health Care, by John Swinton

There is evidence that spirituality can positively affect mental health. There is also evidence, however, that professionals often ignore this fact and need to more fully integrate and respect the spiritual needs of clients and patients.

Spirituality, Values and Mental Health: Jewels for the Journey, by Mary Ellen Coyte, Peter Gilbert, Vicky Nicholls

There is growing recognition of the value of spirituality related to mental well-being. This book addresses policy and practices of professionals as it relates to the subject of spirituality and mental health. The book is designed for mental health practitioners, carers, service users, faith leaders and communities, as well as students and professionals working in the fields of spirituality and mental health.

Spirituality & Mental Health, by Gibert Peter

This resource contains 23 chapters on aspects of spirituality and mental health written by experts in the field. It promotes an understanding of people's belief systems rather than a mechanistic approach to mental health services and proves the increasing importance of spirituality in health and social care.

Spirituality And Mental Health: Clinical Applications, by Gary W Hartz, Harold G Koenig

Even to clinicians practiced in helping clients to manage their stress, the impact of clients’ spirituality upon their mental health can be difficult to discern and discuss. Moreover, ethical dilemmas can arise when clinicians feel compelled to intervene with a client’s negative religious coping. Spirituality and Mental Health: Clinical Applications can help. This thought-provoking guide for mental health professionals and pastoral counselors provides you with a framework to assess and incorporate client-based spirituality into your practice.

Woman Praying Sincerely - Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Page updated: July 24, 2013

Spirituality, a Vital Key to Good Mental Health

Spirituality plays a vital role in our mental health. We are physical beings, but we have emotional and spiritual needs as well. Being aware of our spiritual needs is of vital importance. Who are we? what is our purpose in life? Why are we here? Why is there suffering on a beautiful planet and universe? What does the future hold for us as individuals and as a society? These are questions that can often times best be addressed on a spiritual level.


To ignore one's spirituality is like a table with only three legs, when all of our needs are met, our minds and bodies coordinate more effectively. A self-indulgent or decadent lifestyle ignoring spiritual needs can contribute to psychological disorders for some. What is our higher purpose in life?

Prayer, taking time for reflection, belief in God, Bible reading, such as in the reading of the Psalms and Gospels, is of value in both developing spirituality and in finding inner peace and strength from a source higher than ourselves. In taking time to meditate, in the sense of thinking deeply or pondering, on that which is lofty, elevated and pure, we find a peaceful space and meaning in our hectic lives.

Taking time for spiritual needs daily strengthen us, and the words of persons from the past who had a true purpose in life, a strong connection with the Creator, and who used their lives to teach and inspire others over the centuries, can help us to develop inner strength and to find our place in the universe, the eternal and with God. Daily Bible reading can be a valuable part of therapy, and can help as part of our toolbox of  psychological and spiritual coping skills.

Finding our peace and place with God, therefore, is an essential part of a healthy psychological profile. One psychological study by McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts indicates that "Belief in God may significantly improve the outcome of those receiving short-term treatment for psychiatric illness." Those with a "moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without." Additionally, the study concludes that "Belief" is associated with "improved psychological wellbeing," but that it also results in "decreases in depression and intention to self-harm." (O'Brien, S. 2013)

Positive attention to spiritual needs in a balanced way can contribute to better mental health outcomes.

Balanced attention to spiritual needs can contribute to better mental health and even physical health outcomes in numerous contexts.

Helpful Scriptural Thoughts that Apply to Mental Health

"Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need." Matthew 5:3. This is part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus most concise and profound teachings found in Matthew 5,6,7. Gandhi referred to these simple teachings of Jesus with respect and reverence, and felt that most of the world's problems could be solved with attention to the principles espoused there.

"There is more happiness in giving than in receiving." This is also a quote from Jesus, and by practicing unselfish giving, it leads to better mental health and happiness. We find both purpose and happiness, not by satisfying every selfish desire, but by living our lives unselfishly and giving to others. Sermon on the Mount

With "every form of prayer and supplication, remain awake, with thanksgiving." Being thankful helps us not to give in to despair and to develop a positive attitude. Praying for help and giving thanks, helps us to be stable and to develop inner strength. Supplication, or strong and earnest prayers, can also help us to break through barriers that we might not otherwise be able. It has been stated "With God all things are possible," and there is a measure of truth in this on a personal level.

"Belonging to a religious congregation is not equivalent to belonging to the Kiwanis or Rotary Club. What makes religion and spirituality special? Unlike any other dimension of life, religion and spirituality have a unique focus on the domain of the sacred — transcendence, ultimate truth, finitude and deep connectedness. Any psychology that overlooks these parts of life remains incomplete." - Kenneth I. Pargament, PhD, APA
Pargament is leading expert in the psychology of religion and spirituality.

Prayer, Spirituality and Mental Health

Prayer is a powerful spiritual and psychological aid. Praying specifically about our distressing situations, strength, wisdom, understanding, and guidance, helps us to persevere despite challenges and serious difficulties. However, we must realize that it is also up to each of us as individuals to take personal responsibility for our decisions and actions, and to make changes or improvements in our lives.

Prayer, however, can buoy us up and may make it possible to succeed despite the most dire of circumstances. Knowing that there is a higher purpose in life can help us to keep going when we might feel like giving up. Knowing that there is more to life than our brief present existence on this planet, that there is a higher purpose in life, provides impetus for a positive forward looking spirit. This positive both mentally and even physically. Studies indicate that healthy spirituality actually positively affects physical health outcomes as well.

With this in mind, mental health professionals should be cognizant of and sympathetic to the spiritual needs as well as to the religious practices of their clients. (Hodge, D. R., Bonifas, R. Pl, Chou, R. J.A. Spring 2010).

Prayer is more than a catharsis, it has power and validity. Cultivating, then, our spirituality in a positive way, avoiding the depressing, dark side of life that some may indulge in through choices in literature, viewing dark or pessimistic films, indulging in dark or depressing music, or pursue through interest in the occult, helps youths not to give in to despair and to overcome depression. Rather than indulging in the dark, focus on the light, on what is good, on things of peace and joy; this leads to a more positive attitude, less depression, and greater happiness. While Positive Psychology is a secular, non-spiritual psychological discipline, when it is blended with spirituality from another angle, such as in this article, it can form a foundation for pursuit of what is more virtuous and what contributes to long-term happiness and that which is purposeful rather than mundane or banal.

In applying the precepts of positive psychology, then, as well as the realities of religious practice, to the discussion of spirituality and mental health, one should keep in mind that there can be negative aspects of religion and spirituality, and that good mental health and spirituality are positively linked when spirituality is pursued in a positive rather than negative way. Additionally, balance is necessary in developing oneself spiritually. Religion can become a source of anxiety or even psychosis if it is pursued in a way that is not tempered by balance in all aspects of life. (Pargament. 2013) Spirituality is only one component of mental health, we need to address our physical, emotional and social needs as well.

Psalms of Comfort and Strength

Reading the Psalms is comforting and soothing to the spirit. The experiences of King David in particular, one of the prolific composers of the Psalms, were poignant and wrought with difficulty. David's emotions provided a backdrop for the composition of beautiful and emotional Psalms which may often reflect deep emotions that we ourselves are experiencing. Because David had cultivated a strong relationship with God, his prayers in the Psalms can help us also to lift up our hearts, our souls to God.

Reading the Psalms with a prayerful attitude helps us to grow spiritually and to gain spiritual strength. This is also true of reading the Gospels or Injil (Muslim vernacular). Please read these three Psalms that are comforting and strengthening. Reading the entire book of Psalms, 150 psalms in all, will strengthen you spiritually in times of difficulty, help you cultivate and maintain a deeper faith, and will help you to draw you close to God. The same could be said for reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).

Pages Related to Spirituality and Psychology

Power of the Psalms Anxiety Help - Psalms 86

Help for Depression Bible Psalms, Psalms 103

Power of the Psalms - Psalms 139

Prayer and Health, Mental Health - University of Massachusetts Researchers say prayer is on the rise for health and mental health in the U.S.

The Sermon on the Mount Greatest Psychology Treatise Ever Written

References to Mental Health and Spirituality

O'Brien, S. (April 25, 2013). "Faith in God Positively Influences Treatment for Individuals with Psychiatric Illness, Suggests McLean Hospital Study". McLean Hospital - Harvard Medical School Affiliate.

Pargament, K, I, PhD. (2013, March 22). "What Role Do Religion and Spirituality Play In Mental Health? "Five questions for psychology of religion and spirituality expert Kenneth I. Pargament, PhD." American Psychological Association (APA).

Lynda H. Powell, L. H., Shahabi, L, Thoresen, C. E. (2003, January). "Religion and Spirituality - Linkages to Physical Health". American Psychologist.

Spirituality. Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved July 24, 2013.

Robert J. Hedaya, M.D., D.F.A.P.A. (2012, September 18). "Spirituality and Mental Health". Psychology Today.

Hodge, D. R., Bonifas, R. Pl, Chou, R. J.A. (2010, Spring). "Spirituality and Older Adults: Ethical Guidelines to Enhance Service Provision". Advances in Social Work. Vol. 11 No. 1. p. 1-16.