Both religion and spirituality can have a positive impact on mental health. In a way, they have the same impact. Religion or spirituality can have therapeutic implications for mental health. Randomized trials indicate that religious interventions among religious patients improve recovery from anxiety and depression.
47,48 Psychoeducational groups that focus on spirituality can lead to a greater understanding of problems, feelings, and spiritual aspects of life, 49. Spirituality and religion often provide a sense of security and social structure, and such beliefs can be a strong survival mechanism in difficult times. Being an active member of a close-knit religious community can provide structure, support and a sense of acceptance, all of which are beneficial to mental health. Connecting a group can make people feel welcome and valued. There are also certain circumstances or situations in life that can challenge religious connections and beliefs.
This can include chronic illness, the loss of a loved one, or even feelings of rejection in times of change. It is during these difficult times that people can seek guidance outside their religious group or from trusted spiritual leaders on how to deal with the situation and maintain mental well-being. Research on schizophrenia and religion has predominantly examined religious delusions and hallucinations with religious content. For psychologists who aren't familiar with working in this area, I encourage them to “stick their toes in the water by simply asking their clients a question or two about their religion and spirituality.” Religious and spiritual leaders are a crucial resource for their community to provide mental health education, increase awareness of mental health conditions, and provide support to connect members of the congregation to community resources for help.
Research on religion and spirituality is producing knowledge that affects all subdisciplines of psychology and also other fields. Research conducted in the United States and abroad points to denominational differences, as well as to the differential effects of religion and spirituality, and emphasizes the complex relationships between religious and cultural factors. Similarly, other studies have shown that spiritual forms of support, meaning-making, and coping predict health and well-being beyond the effects of secular support, meaning-making, and overcoming. Factors such as denomination, race, gender, and types of religious coping can affect the relationship between religion or spirituality and depression.
However, recently, religion as a strategy for survival and a factor for recovery has been the subject of increasing interest. Religious issues are important in the evaluation and treatment of patients and, therefore, doctors must be open to the effect of religion on the mental health of their patients. How spiritual values and worship assistance relate to psychiatric disorders in the Canadian population. Since most religions actively discourage the use of substances that adversely affect the body and mind, it's not surprising that studies generally indicate strongly negative associations between substance abuse and religious participation.