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Spirituality and the mental health professions

  • Monika Pelechova (a1), Gilly Wiscarson (a1) and Derek K. Tracy (a1) (a2)
Abstract
Aims and method

Religion and spirituality are very important personal aspects of many people's lives. Little work has looked at the beliefs of mental health professionals and how they reconcile or benefit from the potential differences of religious faith and evidence-based mental health practice. This study used semi-structured interviews to qualitatively explore how professionals from different occupations and faiths conceptualise the relationship between their beliefs and their work.

Results

The commonly cited ‘conflict’ of science and religion was noted, as was the personal support that faith provides for many people. Participants felt their beliefs made them better at their job, not only by reconciling differences from the two paradigms but also by allowing them to recognise compatible attributes of seeking meaning to subjective experience; this had positively influenced their choice of career in mental health. A desire for ongoing opportunity to express and discuss this interface was strongly expressed, but with concern about how this would occur and be perceived.

Clinical implications

There is a lack of qualitative research on the religious beliefs of mental health staff. In the UK generally, the role of faith in public life is a strongly debated topic in the context of an increasingly secular and yet multicultural and multi-faith society. Our data suggest that professionals' beliefs positively influence their choice of career in mental health and make them feel better equipped to undertake their roles and provide good-quality patient care. There is an expressed need for further opportunities for staff to discuss their beliefs – or lack thereof – and to consider the individual impact of beliefs on their professional life.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Derek K. Tracy (derek.tracy@oxleas.nhs.uk)
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

M.P. is a Christian. G.W. is a practising Christian. D.K.T. is a secularist and atheist.

Footnotes
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 1758-3209
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Spirituality and the mental health professions

  • Monika Pelechova (a1), Gilly Wiscarson (a1) and Derek K. Tracy (a1) (a2)
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