How does Spirituality Fit into Mental Health?

On our ongoing journey to establish and maintain good mental health, part of that wheel that is ideally balanced, is the factor of spiritual practices.  For some this may mean religious practices, for others nature based practices, and still others ritualistic practices.  Spirituality is not one thing to all, but can benefit all if taken in the dynamic that fits that individual.  It can be defined in part as that journey or search for harmony, hope, or wholeness or an understanding that life is about more than material things.

Photo by Sadaham Yathra

Photo by Sadaham Yathra

Today, instead of providing statistics and facts, I’d like to relay to you personal experiences.  I have been blessed to work with many people each year, and each year is one of learning, growth, and new experiences.  Some of those experiences include watching individuals find their own strength and growth.  It frankly never ceases to amaze me to see the impact spiritual practices have on my clients and people I know.  Hearing the stories of spiritual influence is like hearing of miracles.  When we hear of miracles however, they are often stories told and retold.  I am lucky enough to hear them first hand from those whose lives have been changed by them.

I work with people from many walks of life, but because of who I am and the clients I attract, they tend to be strong, successful, admirable people.  To hear a soldier speak of spiritual influence are some of the most moving experiences I’ve had.  When I hear stories of people who were struggling with mental illness and lives of horrific trauma who have found faith and turned their entire lives around, I can’t help but know that this is evidence of the impact of spirituality on mental health.  I have worked with teens who, by all accounts, should have been following very different paths, who have found the strength and determination to get good grades, go to college, and succeed in life and attribute this change to faith.  I have seen soldiers go from trauma to faith and change their lives as well.

Now my office is not affiliated with any church or religion, but I would be remiss if I didn’t address the impact of spirituality on mental health.  It is as much a part of good mental health as exercise, social connection, and good nutrition.  Perhaps someday I will provide for you facts and statistics on the advantages, but for today, I will leave you with this.  I have seen and heard of dramatic change and improved mental health through a spiritual connection and encourage everyone to find their own fit and form of connection.  There are endless ways and avenues, and I have faith that those who search will find.