Research into Mental Health and Spirituality

A selection of recent research that relates broadly to mental health and spirituality, spiritual care, training & education.

Research and evidence-based practice informs all health policy and initiatives. In the mental health and spirituality field there is an abundance of quality research that supports the inclusion of spirituality as a personal resource for recovery, enrichment, healing and wellbeing and the practice of spiritual care as a professional modality supporting and enhancing the work of other health disciplines.

Webinar

Chaplaincy and Mental Health: Reviewing the Evidence (Part 1 of 3)

Rachel Daley, MDiv, BCC, and Kjirstin Almos, MA, MDiv, BCC

Mental health often presents a challenge in spiritual care due to chaplains feeling ill prepared to address this dimension of care. This 60-minute webinar is the first in a series of three that will explore an evidence-based approach for chaplaincy care in mental health. Drawing from evidence across diverse disciplines, this presentation will analyze and synthesize evidence relevant to providing spiritual care that is sensitive to mental health. This literature review will conclude with key themes and implications for chaplaincy care and mental health and present educational strategies for continued learning.

Parts 2 and 3 of the presentation are also available on Transforming Chaplaincy’s YouTube channel.

ARTICLES ON SPIRITUALITY AND MENTAL HEALTH

We recommend the following:

  • Malviya, S. (2023) The Need for Integration of Religion and Spirituality into the Mental Health Care of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations in Australia: A Rapid ReviewAustralia is a multicultural and linguistically diverse country. Despite the vital role of religion/spirituality in the mental health of people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, it is not commonly included in their mental health care. A rapid review was conducted to critically evaluate the studies that identified relevant religious/spiritual aspects regarding mental health care for CALD communities. After a systematic search and screening, sixteen empirical studies were included. The findings of the review suggest that people from CALD backgrounds draw strength and comfort from their religion to support mental health. Religious/spiritual practices were identified as effective mental health strategies by CALD people. Religious leaders were noted to be important sources of mental health support and guidance for individuals from some CALD communities. Collaboration of religious leaders in the mental health care, and integration of religious/ spiritual practices into mainstream mental health interventions, may improve mental health care for people with CALD backgrounds.
  • De Brito Sena, MA et al (2021).Defining Spirituality in Healthcare: A Systematic Review and Conceptual Framework. Frontiers in Psychology, 2021. This is a systematic review searching for spirituality definitions published in scientific journals. From a total of 493 articles, 166 were included in the final analysis, showing that there is a large body of scientific literature proposing and analyzing spirituality definitions. In these articles, 24 spirituality dimensions were found, most commonly related to the connectedness and meaning of life. Spirituality was presented as a human and individual aspect. These findings led us to construct a framework that represents spirituality as a quantifiable construct.
  • Garofalo, R (2021) The Psyche, The Soul, and The Wardrobe – How the ancients understood mental illness, the body-soul relationship and spiritual careThis thesis is informed by the following overarching question: what are the potential implications of an early western medical view of the body-mind-soul relationship for the spiritual care of people experiencing psychotic episodes? The medical theory discussed in the literature spans 500 BCE – 500 CE. The results of the systematic review will be brought into dialogue with a survey of recent literature on current neuroscience in relation to soul care.
  • Malviya, S., Meredith, P., Zupan, B., & Kerley, L. (2022). Identifying alternative mental health interventions: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials of chanting and breathwork. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 1-43. This systematic review of randomized controlled trials investigated the effects of two religious/spiritual practices (breathwork and chanting) on mental health outcomes (depression, anxiety, stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms). Although varying in quality, 15 included studies provide moderate to strong support for the effectiveness of chanting and breathwork to alleviate anxiety, depression, stress, and symptoms of PTSD.
  • Malviya, S., Zupan, B., & Meredith, P. (2022). Evidence of religious/spiritual singing and movement in mental health: A systematic review. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 101567. While mental health care needs have increased during the global pandemic, access to care has been reduced. Easily accessible alternative interventions may supplement existing mental health services to meet the increased need of mental health care. Our review explored the evidence of two alternative interventions, religious/spiritual (R/S) singing and R/S movement (dynamic meditation and praise dance), in relation to mental health outcomes.
  • Spittles, B. (2020). Better Understanding Psychosis: Psychospiritual Considerations in Clinical Settings. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 1-9. Throughout history, mental health professionals have generally endorsed an understanding of psychosis that occludes the consideration of possible psychospiritual determinants. However, in light of the similarities between psychotic and benign psychotic-like psychospiritual experiences, this article argues for the inclusion of psychospiritual matters in psychosis research and therapeutic practices. Click to read.

Please contact Jenny Greenham at mentalhealth@spiritualhealth.org.au to access these articles.

SPIRITUALITY LAB

The purpose of the Spirituality Lab is to further understand the relationship between spirituality and mental health in research and translate findings into practice in mental health care in clinical, community and faith community settings. Click here for more information. 

VIDEO

In this short video (9:18) SHA’s Mental Health Leader joins Dr. Simon Jones to discuss his PhD “Peak Spirituality: exploring spiritual experiences of awe, wonder and transcendence in nature with people living with mental illness”.

If you wish to continue the conversation with Simon, you can connect with him at simon.a.jones@optusnet.com.au.