Religious Faith and Mental Health

This week is Mental Health Week. As I think about mental health issues and what mental wellness might be, I find myself pondering the link between mental health and religious faith. This raises many questions. Is good mental health necessary for spiritual health, or vice versa? How does religious faith affect mental health – in fact, does it? Is good mental health dependent on our particular image and understanding of the deity? Do certain religious beliefs lead to mental health issues? And conversely, does poor mental health necessarily lead to strange or delusional religious beliefs? And there are many more questions that arise. It is a complex issue.

Studies show that when dealing with major life stresses such as illness, divorce, bereavement and natural disasters, religion and spirituality generally help people cope. Some of these aspects of religious faith which help people face what life throws at them are the support found through turning to God or a higher power, rituals which enable people to face and deal with life transitions, support from a religious community, and reframing the situation in the context of a larger reality, a system of meaning. However, conversely, it has also been found that certain religious beliefs can also cause emotional stress…


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Ms Kerry McCullough

Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator