There has been increased interest in the relationship between religion and spirituality and mental health in recent years. This article reviews recent research into the capacity of religion and spirituality to benefit or harm the mental health of believers. We also examine the implications this may have for assessment and treatment in psychiatric settings.
Studies indicate that religion and spirituality can promote mental health through positive religious coping, community and support, and positive beliefs. Research also shows that religion and spirituality can be damaging to mental health by means of negative religious coping, misunderstanding and miscommunication, and negative beliefs. Tools for the assessment of patients’ spiritual needs have been studied, and incorporation of spiritual themes into treatment has shown some promise.
Religion and spirituality have the ability to promote or damage mental health. This potential demands an increased awareness of religious matters by practitioners in the mental health field as well as ongoing attention in psychiatric research.