Spirituality and mental health can be linked

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 21, 2012

By Stu Johnson
WEKU, Richmond, Ky.

At some point in their lives, the World Health Organization says more than a third of people report some kind of mental disorder.  The care and treatment of a mental illness includes the use of ever improving medications and intense counseling.  Some counselors believe ‘spirituality’ can impact mental health.
There is evidence religion can help some people suffering mental illness.  Jesse Wright directs the Depression Center at the University of Louisville.   For example, Wright says there’s less suicide among people who regularly attend religious services.
“There’s a fair amount of research that’s been done on spirituality as a protectant against various kinds of psychiatric symptoms or problems, particularly depression,” said Wright.
Likewise, Wright says mental illness can prompt some people to lose their faith, asking themselves ‘Is God mad at me?’ 
In Prestonsburg, in far eastern Kentucky, Gwen Hall is a licensed clinical social worker with Catholic Charities of Lexington.  Hall has counseled patients since 1975.  She believes spirituality and mental health are related.  Hall says a belief in God can result in feelings of love and that can impact thinking.  In other words, when a patients believe they’re feeling God’s love, there are mental and physical benefits.
“What’s fascinating about the new brain research is they can even follow that is people’s brain scans.  There are actual changes in the brain from love,” said Hall.
Read the rest of the article on WEKU’s website.