Religion, Spirituality and Mental Health: Current Trends in Research and Practice

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William Guri, C.Ss.R

Abstract

A young woman of 35 years walks into the Parish Priest’s office for consultation. When she leaves, the priest is left mesmerized by the issues that this parishioner brought up. While he has prayed with her, suggested some scripture and spiritual reading, and promised to continue to pray for her, he cannot quite wrap his mind and heart around the complexity of issues that she presented. He detects that she has a mental health issue which remains to him indeterminate. Similarly, after the same woman consults with a medical professional, she receives a prescription and is offered a follow-up visit. Like the priest, the medical doctor remains puzzled. He detects that she has an underlying religious or spiritual issue somehow interacting with her physical and mental health concerns. Many religious practitioners encounter people with mental health issues which require clinical intervention beyond their pastoral ministry. Likewise, many medical professionals encounter individuals with religious and spiritual issues that require pastoral interventions beyond their clinical care. Religious, spiritual and mental health issues coexist in the same individual in a manner that can be confounding to the helping professionals whether they are religious ministers or clinicians. There is always the danger of treating religious or spiritual issues as if they were clinical matters and vise versa. This is a real challenge to those who attend to distressed people in pastoral ministry and to those who attend to the same people in clinical settings. Present methods of assessment, conceptualization, diagnosis and intervention may not offer clear cut ways for dealing with clinical emergencies in the pastoral setting, and pastoral challenges in the clinical setting. This is an area where we hope that research will enlighten the helping professionals, both clinical and pastoral, with empirically derived or evidence-based conceptualizations that will lead to pastorally sound and clinical effective assessments, diagnoses and interventions. While such research here in Zimbabwe is still emerging, there is an encouraging body of research from other parts of the world from which useful insights may be learnt.

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How to Cite
Guri, W. (2019). Religion, Spirituality and Mental Health: Current Trends in Research and Practice. DARE : Holy Trinity College Journal, (11), 146-168. Retrieved from http://journals.cuz.ac.zw/index.php/dare/article/view/89