Spirituality and Mental Health
According to the Pew Research Religious Landscape Study, upwards of 80% of Americans identify with a religious affiliation (70% Christian, 6%-10% Non-Christian Faiths). With a notable rise in representation observed between 2018-2020, it is apparent this recent increase marks an upward shift in belief amongst the population.
Religious and spiritual practices are observed to enhance mental health through several mechanisms, which include: coping styles, social support, locus of control, physiological mechanisms, in addition to architecture and the built environment according to @mhealthuk
Findings show a collaborative approach to religious coping (i.e. ‘support from God’) enhances resilience while reducing symptoms of stress. Data suggests religious beliefs may enable an individual to reframe or reinterpret events perceived as uncontrollable, in such a way to make them less stressful or meaningful. Moreover, support derived from the church community can be a significant source of self-esteem, companionship and practical help, assisting people to cope with stress, trauma and emotional dysregulation.
Certain expressions or elements of spirituality encouraged in many religious traditions including hope, contentment, love and forgiveness may positively affect various physiological mechanisms through impacting the neural pathways connected to the endocrine and immune systems. Lastly, religious models observed in the environment through architecture (temples, mosques, churches), art, music and nature are all observed to have a positive effect on the mental health of believers.
Finding your source of support through whichever mechanism, system or community is a significant protective factor of value, which demonstrates resilience and dynamic capacity. Historically and statistically, assurance from a ‘higher power’ is proven as an effective method in mitigating both psychological and physiological stress, while improving health outcomes.
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