Spirituality and Religion

Learning Disability & Mental Ill-Health

“We see as the basis of our humanity the fact that we are all ultimately the same. We are vulnerable. We are embodied creatures. We feel hunger, thirst, fear, pain. We reason, hope, dream aspire. These things are all true and important. But we are also different. Each landscape, language, culture, community is unique. Our very dignity as persons is rooted in the fact that none of us – not even genetically identical twins – is exactly like any other”.

Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (The Dignity of Difference, Continuum, London New York, Toronto, 2002)

Does Spirituality Help?

Does Spirituality help to protect a person’s mental health?

Yes, through…

  • Religious practices such as prayer and reading religious texts
  • Joining a caring community and living by certain values
  • Wearing particular clothes or eating special foods
  • Cultural or creative activities, writing poetry, making music, creating art, getting closer to nature
  • Activities that develop self-awareness or personal control such as meditation, Yoga or physical activity, friendship or voluntary work

Some people may consider these activities central to their lives, but they may not think of themselves as ‘spiritual’ nor associate these activities with ‘spirituality’.

(Professor Martin Aaron, 2011)

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2009) recognizes that spirituality provides people with learning disabilities and mental health needs:

  • A deep- seated sense of meaning and purpose in life
  • A sense of belonging
  • A sense of connection of ‘the deeply personal with the universal’
  • Acceptance, integration and a sense of wholeness.

And that through having spirituality in their lives, individuals have gained:

  • Better self control, self esteem and confidence
  • Faster and easier recovery (often through healthy grieving of losses and through recognising their strengths)
  • Better relationships – with self, with others and with God / creation / nature
  • A new sense of meaning, hope and peace of mind. This has allowed them to accept and live with their continuing problems.

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfo/treatments/spirituality.aspx

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