Masters Essay About Impact of Spirituality in Mental Health Care

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ABSTRACT: This Masters essay aims to understand the impact of spirituality in mental health care. It focuses on three research questions: (1) Which kinds of spiritual needs do patients experience in mental health care?, (2) How do patients experience the relationship between the satisfaction of their spiritual needs and the improvement of their mental health?, and (3) How do patients relate their spiritual needs to their experience of the meaning of their life and suffering? A qualitative research design is used for the study hermeneutic phenomenology analytic approach. The study reviewed ten scientific articles on spirituality in the domain of mental health as relevant to professional health care caregivers. The literature review was undertaken by using an hermeneutic phenomenology approach. Findings show that patients spiritual needs could be given a religious meaning (which constitutes patients participation in religious activities and fellowships), existential meaning (which entails having the transcendence knowledge and purpose of ones life), and a holistic understanding (that incorporates communal, religious, and existential understanding of spirituality). Patients in the study experience that the satisfaction of their spiritual needs in mental health helps them to find meaning to their suffering and purpose in their life. It is shown that patients experience of spirituality has a significant positive impact on their health. Incorporating spiritual intervention in mental health care augmented relationships between patients and nurses where nurses helped patients to identify spiritual resources to get them though difficult situation, cope with suffering and experience a sense of stability. The study concludes that spiritual care is widely neglected in mental health care and that this situation could be corrected by training nurses to be responsive to patients religious needs - which the study proposes as direction to guide future research activities in this area of study.

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Keywords: Spirituality, religion, meaning, purpose, suffering, health, mental health, wellbeing.


This work is dedicated to my late father and my loving mother.


It has been one of my lifelong ambitions to write a project or a book on the impact of spirituality in mental health care to build the notion toward what I feel necessary on the issue of spirituality as regards mental health. I do believe that a constructive criticism from people who have interest in this work is a very welcome attitude that will help the usefulness of this study. I have not positioned myself to mean that people with different ideology, who look at this topic from different perspectives, are on the wrong track, but only derived an academic research to show that knowledge is an infinite horizon which can be built upon. I have argued not to embarrass any religious faith or believe but to distinctively differentiate my position on what I conceive on mental health practise.

However, I must communicate my honest appreciation to my supervisor, Professor Antonio Barbosa da Silva (PhD) for guiding me through, correcting and improving my work and for his constructive critique and encouragement, advice and for leading me throughout the course of study. My appreciation must be extended to Associate Professor Anne Brita Thorod (PhD), whose enormous effort cannot be underestimated and for the encouragement and support rendered to me throughout my study. Enormous gratitude goes to my family members for their concern and contribution cannot be surpassed in my study. I am profoundly indebted to all my friends for their special concern and assistance to make my study a reality.

Tarik Brahmi, May, 2016.


Introduction 1.1

Background of the study

In the recent past, the world has witnessed an upsurge in mental health issues among persons of different ages. The ability to cope with mental health issues as well as to ensure the availability of a holistic care system for mental health patients is a matter of great concern (Herrman & Jane-Llopis, 2012). It is important to re-emphasize mental illnesses as medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feelings, mood, ability to communicate to others, and daily functioning (Goldman & Grob, 2003). Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are comprised of a group of diseases that frequently result in a diminished competence to cope with ordinary demands of life (Sodestrom & Martinson, 1987).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO 2014), mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

According to Anders Johan Wickstrom Andersen (2006), mental health constitutes of multi-scientific interdisciplinary education and research and field activities geared towards the promotion as well as improvement of peoples mental health. The focus is to ensure that conditions which result in mental health issues are managed by strengthening personal self-worth as well as providing assistance in the process of promoting the ability to cope with daily challenges and ensure the creation of inclusive communities. (My translation).

Lennart Nordenfelts theory of health, as cited in Venkatapuram (2013), notes that health is the ability to achieve vital goals (Venkatapuram, 2013, p. 271). Mental health and wellbeing are essential to our specific ability as humans to meditate, emote, interrelate with each other, make a living as well as enjoy life (Joseph, 2015). On this premise, the promotion, protection and restoration of mental health can be viewed as an important apprehension of persons, communities and societies all over the world (WHO Media Center, 2014).

Since 1980, there have been a lot of writings on the impact of spirituality in the promotion, protection and restoration of mental health. This study will look into spiritual and existential care impact on mental health (Mazzotti, Mazzuca, Sebastiani, Scoppola, & Marchetti, 2011). To achieve this objective, the study will investigate the patients needs and experiences of spiri...

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