Monday, December 18, 2006

TO WRITE: Spirituality's Role in Mental Health
In my way of looking at the Universe, we are all "spiritual" people -- not necessarily "religious" or even consciously spiritual in day to day life -- but spiritual just the same. We all have relationships with our self, with the world around us, with the mysteries life offers, and I believe that the way we face these things defines our spirituality. This is a very liberal use of the word "spiritual," I realize, but stay with me here.

Whether you are a Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, agnostic, atheist or other, you have certain views about how the world operates and about what you most deeply treasure in that world. And, whether you hold truth, kindness or other principles as your highest values, whether your worldview is shaped by a traditional religious background or not, I argue that your mental health is affected by your spirituality.

The majority of psychiatric inpatients note that religion gives meaning and purpose to their life, according to several studies. In a general patient survey, 75% would like their doctors to address spiritual issues as part of their care. Clearly these are vitally important issues for many of us.

Play with this...
Write for 20 minutes on your spiritual views and how they relate to your depression or other mental illness. For example, does being an atheist ground you when you're ill? Does your belief in God help you to keep going despite your symptoms? And have your mental health experiences changed your worldview? Exploring spirituality with respect to your mental illness may make you more consciously aware of your beliefs and may even provide you with a lifeline when difficult thoughts and painful feelings strike.

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