The national institute of mental health estimates that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. will experience a mental illness in a given year. Various Research has shown that for some, religion and individual spirituality can directly improve physical and mental health.
Here are some ways that faith and religion can help alleviate your mental health symptoms.
- Prayer and Mediation – According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), many studies have reported that 10-20 minutes of contemplative prayer and meditation twice a day can help decrease metabolism, decrease heart rate, decrease breathing rate, and calm brain waves, which in turn may help alleviate some of the clinical symptoms of mental illness.
- Community/Togetherness – Places of worship are known to offer a number of resources and social activities that can support people living with a mental health condition and their families. These places usually bring people of different backgrounds together and encourages participation in different activities (like worship, singing, dancing etc.). This promotes a sense of belonging, which is a significant tool for individuals with mental illness.
- Empathy/feeling understood – Most religions and faiths provide explanations for the existences of suffering including mental illness. Some of these explanations can be found in their sacred books, text or sermons that many people resonate with. Turning to these messages/explanations brings comfort and sometimes relief to individuals struggling with mental illness.
- The helping hand – Oftentimes serving others makes us forget about our own struggles and difficulties. According NAMI, recent research suggests that we experience direct health benefits when we volunteer to help others. Most religious organizations provide people with the opportunity to serve our communities and others. For instance mission trips, community outreach, helping people in weather crises, teaching a Sunday school class or vacation bible school, nursing home ministration and many more. The sense of accomplishment that comes from helping others can help improve mood and reduce some mental health symptoms.
Mental health and faith have long been interconnected in a number of ways. Even though there has been a lot of stigma within the religious institution about mental health, recent research supports the role of spirituality and religion in healing and mental health and for many spirituality and religion play an important role in healing and recovery.
Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-adults.shtml