Spirituality is a central part of human experience that relates to our sense of meaning and purpose in life, and our relationship with ourselves, others, our community and the world around us. It is different from religion, although some people may connect their spirituality with a religious identity and being part of a particular faith.
Experiences of illness, distress and trauma can disrupt our connection with ourselves and with others, and can profoundly challenge our sense of meaning and purpose in life. People who have overcome mental health issues tell us that having, or regaining, a sense of connection, hope and meaning in life are critical to recovery and wellbeing.
This sense of meaning and connection is one of basic foundations of good mental health, yet it can be overlooked and misunderstood within mental health services. Good mental health support will recognise spirituality as a source of strength and wisdom, and will help people to reconnect with this where needed.
Exploring spirituality as part of recovery may be helpful in:
- offering a way to understand what is happening
- finding a source of strength and hope
- connecting with a supportive community
- enabling self-awareness and compassion for others
- dealing with grief and loss
In seeking wellbeing, you may wish to explore and express your spirituality through:
- prayer, meditation and mindfulness
- participating in a faith community or talking with a spiritual leader
- connecting with nature
- developing self-awareness through physical practices such as yoga or breathing exercises
- practicing rituals that are personally meaningful
- talking with other people who find spirituality helpful in their recovery
- helping others or contributing to the community
It is important for people to be able to choose how to include spirituality in their own recovery and to understand what will and will not be helpful. For example, some people may have had experiences within organised religions that were traumatic or damaging to mental health, while others feel nurtured and connected to a higher purpose through organised religion.
In general, spiritual experiences as part of recovery should be a source of comfort and not cause distress. There may also be times when spiritual beliefs and practices are not enough on their own, and other support and treatments are needed to stay well.
If you need to talk, call our Helpline.
Learn more about:
- the importance of identity and belonging
- mental illness
- causes and contributing factors
- what helps
- support for families, friends and carers
- our peer education programs
- our community education programs
- our research on community inclusion
Remember, you are not alone. Hear stories from people who have been there.
For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.