Religion, spirituality, and faith encompass many perspectives linked to the search for connection to something bigger than ourselves and meaning in life (1). While spirituality is the individual search for meaning, purpose, and direction in life, religion is a set of beliefs that are held by a group and can be organised in an institutional system, like Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, or Islam.
Risk and/or Protective Factor
Spiritual and religious awareness, practices, and beliefs have been associated with improved mental well-being (2) and as a protective factor for suicide (3).
However, faith can also be a risk factor if it creates a barrier to accessing mental health services. For example, if people have no means of religious expression, or the importance of their faith is over-looked in treatment, this may lead to anxiety and impaired recovery (3).
1. Lunn J. The Role of Religion, Spirituality and Faith in Development: a critical theory approach. Third World Q [Internet]. 2009 [cited 2021 Jan 12];30(5):937–51. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=ctwq20
2. Department of Health. No health without mental health: A cross-Government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages. Analysis of the Impact on Equality (AIE) Annex B - Evidence Base [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2021 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-mental-health-strategy-for-england
3. Department of Health. No health without mental health. A cross-government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2021 Jan 15]. Available from: www.dh.gov.uk/mentalhealthstrategy