Can religion actually help you recover from mental illness?

Religion and mental illness certainly have strong ties – but does it help or hinder mental illness recovery? According to experts and other service users, religion can sometimes help by giving a person with a mental illness access to a community, and giving people new-found purpose and meaning to their life.

The feeling is shared across different religions. A Muslim patient from St Andrew’s in Essex said: When I pray, I put a prayer sign outside my door and the staff acknowledge it and they understand that I need these prayer times. The staff here also understand that in my care plan, I have a lot of spiritual needs, which are very specific. The multi faith room has a Wudu, which I use, and the room allows for congregational prayers as well, which I enjoy. I’ve been a Muslim for seven years and it has given me strength and structure to my life. Religion has definitely helped me. Mental health treatment becomes more effective and engaged when it takes into account the existential needs of the person and is open to working with the religious and spiritual resources that are part of that person’s culture. Spirituality can present in mental health as a double-edged sword. But for many people, through sensible handling and if integrated correctly into a care plan, religion can help them gain meaning, purpose and a much-needed sense of belonging. And as Dr Persaud says: ‘Religion can also be a pillar of mental strength and resilience in the healing process.’

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