Spirituality can be a powerful tool to inspire hope, create motivation, and promote healing. Many persons from diverse, multicultural communities utilize spiritual and/or faith-based organizations as a source of social support and hope in their healing process.
Spirituality is an essential part of how people understand themselves and their world; it is not something separate. Some people experience altered states of being with a spiritual component that can support the journey of recovery. For some, this can be a life-changing event. Often this spiritual component is ignored, labeled, or confused with delusions or other symptoms.
Spirituality and religion can be important components of recovery, and they have too often been overlooked, minimized, and many times labeled as pathology, leaving consumers with little hope for themselves and their futures. We acknowledge that there are numerous barriers – including political, legal, and cultural -- between the public mental health system and spirituality/religion which need to be addressed thoughtfully, systematically, and with great care.
Faith communities and spirituality can be a source of coping and social support for those struggling with the impact of mental health issues: poverty, homelessness, loss of meaning and purpose, stigma, isolation, etc. We also understand that some individuals and families have experienced traumatic interactions with religious communities. In these instances, it is important to provide a safe environment for talking about these experiences in an open and accepting way.
Spirituality is a core value of multicultural sensitivity, which asks practitioners in the mental health care system to be able to understand different worldviews. By integrating spirituality and multicultural factors into treatment, a greater appreciation for the “whole person” is emerging in the mental health field. Understanding spirituality as an element in mental health recovery brings us closer to dealing with the whole person. We know that physical health can influence an individual’s mental health. The same is true for spirituality.