Spirituality, Recovery and Mental Health
WWAMH runs groups based in existing mental health resource centres – currently Aberaeron and Llanelli – that explores spirituality in its widest sense as a positive help towards recovery from mental health problems. Its purpose is to promote wellness rather than conformity to particular beliefs. We consider how spirituality encourages our recovery rather than contributes to our pathology.
Spirituality has a lot in common with recovery values as they both relate to our intrinsic self-worth. The whole person is on a journey of discovery from pathology to self-determination. Both focus on optimism and positive expectations. Spirituality recognises that we can have significant and meaningful events in our lives despite our symptoms, it improves our coping and it can be a protective or preventative experience rather than a treatment for illness. Spirituality can help in dealing with serious health problems by serving a greater purpose, and by sharing beliefs with others that encourage belonging which dispels loneliness. A relationship with the divine other offers solace, direction, and a sense of being valued and loved.
As people we are more than physical bodies; modern psychiatry reflects this by describing a bio-psycho-social model of the person. Our thoughts, beliefs and what inspires us have tended to be seen as ‘psychological’. In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in what is loosely termed spirituality, which focuses on meaning and purpose in life, compassion, and a deeper connection with self, with others, and the wider world. Service users have made it clear that they often draw on their spiritual strengths and hope to aid recovery from mental illness. Andrew Sims, past president of Royal College of Psychiatrists, has said:
The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land (from Is Faith Delusion).
The project is open to past and present service users, is non-denominational and a belief in God is not necessary. The principle ground rules are respect for each other and there is no preaching. Instead of seeing our beliefs as signs of our illness, we want to explore them as strengths in our recovery. To the best of our knowledge few projects have attempted what we are trying to do and so with any project in its early days we are still finding our way.
A more detailed exploration can be found in the accompanying document:
If you are interested in the project please contact Tim Teeling on firstname.lastname@example.org