For some people there is sense to a deeper meaning and purpose to life beyond human condition, which people call faith or spirituality. Having faith or spirituality can provide stability and resilience, helping to cope with stress and difficulties.
People express this in a number of ways including through an organised religion, through nature, through community.
Focussing what some people think of as a natural inborn sense of purpose does not prevent you for feeling stressed, experiencing difficulties, or having a mental illness but there is evidence that people who explore these feelings, or who belong to a faith community or who hold religious or spiritual beliefs have better mental health.
Faith can be important at times of deep emotional stress, physical and mental illness, loss, bereavement and when approaching our own death. Spirituality can give a sense of life being a journey and most religions see illness as part of the holistic experience of life. Ups and downs are part of the progress of life as we learn to live life to its full.
The following FarmWell downloadable document addresses the meaning behind Faith and Spirituality, how different people interpret spirituality, the balance of spirituality amongst wellbeing and the value of faith and spirituality, click here to view. This document can be downloaded at the bottom of this page under ‘Downloads’.
There are many writers who give expression to the importance of a deeper meaning to life. The poet and author, Alison Webster wrote this prayer in the Christian tradition for World Mental Health Day:
In John Green’s book ‘Looking for Alaska’ Pudge expresses a sense of the unity of life following the death of his best friend, Alaska, in an accident:
“But ultimately I do not believe that she was only matter. The rest of her must be recycled, too. I believe now that we are greater than the sum of our parts. If you take Alaska’s genetic code and you add her life experiences and the relationships she had with people, and then you take the size and shape of her body, you do not get her. There is something else entirely. There is a part of her greater than the sum of her knowable parts. And that part has to go somewhere, because it cannot be destroyed
Being able to express and explore spirituality is a basic human right. Under human rights law we all have the right to freedom of thought, belief and religion (Article 9 Human Rights Act). This includes:
- Practising religion and talking about religion. Don’t be afraid to talk to trusted friends and colleagues about issues of spirituality including Counsellors when you are talking about your mental wellbeing.
- Talk to a leader of faith groups such as a chaplain, guru or imam.
- Talk to your GP and ask for a prescription for a Well book on spirituality and wellbeing.
Further sources of information:
- The Mental Health Foundation have produced a booklet covering the steps of how to respond to spiritual needs.
- The Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health – a charity aimed at recognising the importance of spiritual values and support in mental health.
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists – Spirituality and mental health