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Spirituality

Exploring the contours of religion and spirituality in creating community: A focus on persons with psychosis

 

Background

For persons living with psychosis, religious and spiritual spaces are a readily available resource that can support recovery and community inclusion (Royce-Davis, 2000). However, these resources are often overlooked by clinicians in their assessment and treatment planning of clients' community needs (D'Souza & George, 2006; Waldfogel & Wolpe, 1993).

While religion and spirituality were not the sole focus of the community participation study, these areas emerged as important components in the daily lives of participants at both an individual and community level.

 

The Findings

Participant narratives highlighted the important role of religion and spirituality in the day-to-day lives of persons living with psychosis.

Three themes emerged:

  1. Creating community and increasing resilience through religion and spirituality
  2. Barriers to engaging in religion and spirituality
  3. Facilitating inclusion in faith spaces.

Faith spaces embraced the whole person, including those parts of one self that others in society might have difficulty engaging with. This in turn enabled a more coherent sense of self.

 

Conclusions

Persons with psychosis do not exist or experience life in isolation from their community, but often occupy devalued positions within society which restricts access to devalued community spaces whether that be as a function of illness, stigma, discrimination, or poverty (Kidd et al, forthcoming). It is within this context primary participants were able to access faith spaces and actively participate in their community.

These findings have implications for enhancing social and spiritual capital amongst persons with psychosis. In the midst of limited access to other forms of capital such as material or social, spiritual capital provided participants in this study with access to an empowered sense of self.

 

Implications

Given the centrality of faith spaces in the lives of persons with psychosis, there is a call to:

  1. Better incorporate religion and spirituality into mainstream mental health services.
  2. Engage with faith leaders and faith communities to address stigma and discrimination.

 

Recommendations

  1. Psychiatric services need to build better bridges with community-based faith spaces so individuals with psychosis are supported in a more integrated and holistic manner.
  2. Faith leaders and communities need better education on psychosis.
  3. Clinicians need to receive better education on the diverse religions and cultures that exist amongst their clients, and the helpful role it can have in recovery.

 

 

References

D'Souza, R. & George, K. (2006). Spirituality, religion and psychiatry: its application to clinical practice, Australian Psychiatry, 14, 4, 408-412.

Kidd, S. et al. Locating Community among People with Schizophrenia living in a Diverse Urban Environment. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Forthcoming.

Royce-Davis, J. (2000). The Influence of Spirituality on Community Participation and Belonging: Christina's Story. Counseling and Values, 44, 2, 135–142.

Waldfogel, S. & Wolpe, P. R. (1993). Using awareness of religious factors to enhance interventions in consultation- liaison psychiatry. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 44, 1, 473–477. 

 


"Sometimes I pray. And if I need that extra lift I'll go to the church…When I found myself here (in Canada) by myself and going through a lot of difficulties, problems that happened. I found that I had a need to involve myself with going to church, so I did. And then I liked it, it felt good, so I kept going" (Primary participant)

Faith communities in general sort of roll with this stuff very well… maybe the people in faith communities have their own fragility in a lot of cases. That's why they take their faith seriously, that's why they have a dependency on God (Faith leader, Catholic). Everyone looks at the mentally sick person as in a very compassionate manner, they feel very sad towards him and they try to help that person (Faith leader, Buddhist).

"Everyone looks at the mentally sick person as in a very compassionate manner, they feel very sad towards him and they try to help that person" (Buddhist faith leader).

Faith communities in general sort of roll with this stuff very well… maybe the people in faith communities have their own fragility in a lot of cases. That's why they take their faith seriously, that's why they have a dependency on God (Faith leader, Catholic).  Faith communities in general sort of roll with this stuff very well… maybe the people in faith communities have their own fragility in a lot of cases. That's why they take their faith seriously, that's why they have a dependency on God (Faith leader, Catholic)."I'm trying to find a church in my neighbourhood too, to go to. Yeah, because I used to go to church; like someone invited me and then I go there. And then they didn't speak English" (primary participant, man, Christian, African Caribbean).  "I'm trying to find a church in my neighbourhood too, to go to. Yeah, because I used to go to church; like someone invited me and then I go there. And then they didn't speak English" (primary participant, man, Christian, African Caribbean).

 "I'm trying to find a church in my neighbourhood too, to go to. Yeah, because I used to go to church; like someone invited me and then I go there. And then they didn't speak English" (Primary participant).

Some of that ethnic diversity does carry with it behaviours…Ways of praying. There are people that like to get up in front of the statue and they are bowing and you might look at them and say, struggling on somewhat-, but then you realize no, that's just cultural. That's just the way they do that…Their behaviours that we bring with us, maybe the better ones are the people who 14 plot themselves down on the ends of pews and won't move over and they sort of sit there with this look, this they are suffering. (Faith leader, Catholic)   

"Some of that ethnic diversity does carry with it behaviours…Ways of praying. There are people that like to get up in front of the statue and they are bowing and you might look at them and say, struggling on somewhat-, but then you realize no, that's just cultural. That's just the way they do that…Their behaviours that we bring with us, maybe the better ones are the people who plot themselves down on the ends of pews and won't move over and they sort of sit there with this look, this they are suffering" (Catholic faith leader)