Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 343–355 | Cite as

Concepts, Practices and Advantages of Spirituality Among People with a Chronic Mental Illness in Melbourne

  • Simon Jones
  • Keith Sutton
  • Anton IsaacsEmail author
Original Paper


There is a relative paucity of literature in the field of spirituality among people who have a lived experience of severe mental illness from Australia. Sixteen individuals with a severe mental illness were interviewed on their experiences of spirituality. The three themes that emerged from the data were concepts of spirituality, benefits of intentional spiritual practices and perceived spiritual benefits of recreational pursuits and physical activity. This paper adds to the relatively sparse literature on spirituality among persons with a mental illness in Australia.


Spirituality Religion Mental disorder Mental health services Recovery 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. AbdAleati, N. S., Mohd Zaharim, N., & Mydin, Y. O. (2016). Religiousness and mental health: Systematic review study. Journal of Religion and Health, 55(6), 1929–1937. Scholar
  2. Anandarajah, G., & Hight, E. (2001). Spirituality and medical practice: Using the HOPE questions as a practical tool for spiritual assessment. American Family Physician, 63(1), 81–89.Google Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017). 2016 Census: Religion. Retrieved from
  4. Banziger, S., van Uden, M., & Janssen, J. (2008). Praying and coping. The relation between varieties of praying and religious coping styles. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 11(1), 101–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumsteiger, R., & Chenneville, T. (2015). Challenges to the conceptualization and measurement of religiosity and spirituality in mental health research. Journal of Religion and Health, 54(6), 2344–2354. Scholar
  6. Bloomfield, D. (2017). What makes nature-based interventions for mental health successful? British Journal of Psychiatry Int, 14(4), 82–85.Google Scholar
  7. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bussema, E. F., & Bussema, K. E. (2007). Gilead revisited: Faith and recovery. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 30(4), 301–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bussing, A., Michalsen, A., Khalsa, S. B. S., Telles, S., & Sherman, K. J. (2012). Effects of yoga on mental and physical health: A short summary of reviews. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Scholar
  10. Carlisle, P. A. (2015). “We don’t Talk about that Around Here”: Religion, spirituality and mental health in Northern Ireland. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 18(5), 396–407. Scholar
  11. Coleman, E. J. (1998). Creativity and spirituality: Bonds between art and religion. New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  12. Cook, C. (2015). Religion and spirituality in clinical practice. British Journal of Psychiatric Advances, 21, 42–50.Google Scholar
  13. Cook, C. C., Breckon, J., Jay, C., Renwick, L., & Walker, P. (2012). Pathway to accommodate patients’ spiritual needs. Nursing Management (Harrow), 19(2), 33–37. Scholar
  14. Cornah, D. (2006). The impact of spirituality on mental health. A review of the literature. The Retrieved from
  15. Cotton, S., & Butselaar, F. (2013). Outdoor adventure camps for people with mental illness. Australasian Psychiatry, 21(4), 352–358. Scholar
  16. Da Silva, J. P., & Pereira, A. M. S. (2017). Perceived spirituality, mindfulness and quality of life in psychiatric patients. Journal of Religion and Health, 56(1), 130–140. Scholar
  17. Eckersley, R. M. (2007). Culture, spirituality, religion and health: Looking at the big picture. Medical Journal of Australia, 186(10 Suppl), S54–S56.Google Scholar
  18. Fallot, R. D. (2007). Spirituality and religion in recovery: Some current issues. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 30(4), 261–270. Scholar
  19. Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. S., et al. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357–368. Scholar
  20. Greaves, V. (2008). Aboriginal spirituality: A baseline for indigenous knowledges development in australia. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 28(2), 363–398.Google Scholar
  21. Green, J. E., Gardner, F. M., & Kippen, S. A. (2009). Healing of the soul: The role of spirituality in recovery from mental illness. International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 13(2), 65–75.Google Scholar
  22. Green, J., Willis, K., Hughes, E., Small, R., Welch, N., Gibbs, L., et al. (2007). Generating best evidence from qualitative research: The role of data analysis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 31(6), 545–550. Scholar
  23. Ho, R. T. H., Chan, C. K. P., Lo, P. H. Y., Wong, P. H., Chan, C. L. W., Leung, P. P. Y., et al. (2016). Understandings of spirituality and its role in illness recovery in persons with schizophrenia and mental-health professionals: A qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry, 16(1), 86. Scholar
  24. Koenig, H. G. (2007). Religion, spirituality and medicine in Australia: Research and clinical practice. Medical Journal of Australia, 186(10 Suppl), S45–S46.Google Scholar
  25. Koenig, H. G. (2015). Religion, spirituality, and health: A review and update. Advances in Mind and Body Medicine, 29(3), 19–26.Google Scholar
  26. Koenig, H., King, D., & Carson, V. (2012). Handbook of religion and health (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Lukoff, D. (2007). Spirituality in the recovery from persistent mental disorders. Southern Medical Journal, 100(6), 642–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McAllister, E., Bhullar, N., & Schutte, N. S. (2017). Into the Woods or a stroll in the park: How virtual contact with nature impacts positive and negative affect. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Scholar
  29. McCrindle, M., Renton, S., Phillips, A., & Miles, E. (2017). Faith and belief in Australia: A national study on religion, spirituality and worldview trends. NSW: Retrieved from Baulkham Hills.Google Scholar
  30. Miller, W. R., & Thoresen, C. E. (2003). Spirituality, religion, and health. An emerging research field. American Psychologist, 58(1), 24–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mohr, S., Perroud, N., Gillieron, C., Brandt, P. Y., Rieben, I., Borras, L., et al. (2011). Spirituality and religiousness as predictive factors of outcome in schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorders. Psychiatry Research, 186, 177–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Moreira-Almeida, A., Koenig, H. G., & Lucchetti, G. (2014). Clinical implications of spirituality to mental health: Review of evidence and practical guidelines. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 36(2), 176–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Morphy, H. (1989). From dull to brilliant: The aesthetics of spiritual power among the Yolngu. Man, 24(1), 21–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Neergaard, M. A., Olesen, F., Andersen, R. S., & Sondergaard, J. (2009). Qualitative description—the poor cousin of health research? BMC Medical Research Methodology, 9, 52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pandya, S. P. (2017). Millenarianism and yoga: A spiritual approach to mental health. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 19(2), 151–168. Scholar
  36. Panesar, N., & Valachova, I. (2011). Yoga and mental health. Australasian Psychiatry, 19(6), 538–539. Scholar
  37. Pargament, K. I. (2013). Conversations with Eeyore: Spirituality and the generation of hope among mental health providers. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 77(4), 395–412. Scholar
  38. Peach, H. G. (2003). Religion, spirituality and health: How should Australia’s medical professionals respond? Medical Journal of Australia, 178(2), 86–88.Google Scholar
  39. Raffay, J., Wood, E., & Todd, A. (2016). Service user views of spiritual and pastoral care (chaplaincy) in NHS mental health services: A co-produced constructivist grounded theory investigation. BMC Psychiatry. Scholar
  40. Robertson, R., Wray, S. J., Maxwell, M., & Pratt, R. J. (2008). The introduction of a healthy reading scheme for people with mental health problems: Usage and experiences of health professionals and library staff. Mental Health in Family Medicine, 5, 219–228.Google Scholar
  41. Roof, W. C. (2003). Religion and spirituality: Toward an integrated analysis. In M. Dillon (Ed.), Handbook of the sociology of religion (pp. 137–148). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Russinova, Z., & Cash, D. (2007). Personal perspectives about the meaning of religion and spirituality among persons with serious mental illnesses. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 30(4), 271–284. Scholar
  43. Sampaio, C. V. S., Lima, M. G., & Ladeia, A. M. (2017). Meditation, health and scientific investigations: Review of the literature. Journal of Religion and Health, 56(2), 411–427. Scholar
  44. Sandelowski, M. (2000). Whatever happened to qualitative description? Research in Nursing and Health, 23, 334–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schell, L., Cotton, S., & Luxmoore, M. (2012). Outdoor adventure for young people with a mental illness. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 6(4), 407–414. Scholar
  46. Shafranske, E. P., & Sperry, L. (2005). Addressing the spiritual dimension in psychotherapy: Introduction and overview. In E. P. Shafranske & L. Sperry (Eds.), Spiritually oriented psychotherapy (pp. 11–29). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sisask, M., Varnik, A., Kolves, K., Bertolote, J. M., Bolhari, J., Botega, N. J., et al. (2010). Is religiosity a protective factor against attempted suicide: A cross-cultural case-control study. Archives of Suicide Research, 14, 44–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Slayton, S. C., D’Archer, J., & Kaplan, F. (2010). Outcome studies on the efficacy of art therapy: A review of findings. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 27(3), 108–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Smith, C., & Denton, M. L. (2005). Soul searching: The religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Talbott, J. A. (2012). Religion and spirituality and psychiatry. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 200(10), 831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. The Centre for Spirituality in Nature. (2017). Home Page. Retrieved from
  52. Tsuang, M. T., & Simpson, J. C. (2008). Commentary on Koenig (2008): “Concerns about measuring ‘spirituality’ in research”. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 196(8), 647–649. Scholar
  53. Uttley, L., Stevenson, M., Scope, A., Rawdin, A., & Sutton, A. (2015). The clinical and cost effectiveness of group art therapy for people with non-psychotic mental health disorders: A systematic review and cost-effectiveness analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 15, 151. Scholar
  54. Van der Weyden, M. B. (2007). Spirituality and health. Medical Journal of Australia, 187(7), 423–424.Google Scholar
  55. Volpe, U., Torre, F., De Santis, V., Perris, F., & Catapano, F. (2015). Reading group rehabilitation for patients with psychosis: A randomized controlled study. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 22(1), 15–21. Scholar
  56. Weber, S. R., & Pargament, K. I. (2014). The role of religion and spirituality in mental health. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 27(5), 358–363. Scholar
  57. Wilding, C. (2007). Spirituality as sustenance for mental health and meaningful doing: A case illustration. Medical Journal of Australia, 186(10), S67–S69.Google Scholar
  58. Wilding, C., May, E., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2005). Experience of spirituality, mental illness and occupation: A life-sustaining phenomenon. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 52(1), 2–9. Scholar
  59. Wilding, C., Muir-Cochrane, E., & May, E. (2006). Treading lightly: Spirituality issues in mental health nursing. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 15, 144–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Williams, D. R., & Sternthal, M. J. (2007). Spirituality, religion and health: Evidence and research directions. Medical Journal of Australia, 186(10 Suppl), S47–S50.Google Scholar
  61. Wolff, E., Gaudlitz, K., von Lindenberger, B. L., Plag, J., Heinz, A., & Strohle, A. (2011). Exercise and physical activity in mental disorders. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinicl Neuroscience, 261(Suppl 2), S186–S191. Scholar
  62. World Psychiatric Association. (2016). WPA Position Statement on Spirituality. WPA Position Statement on Spirituality and Religion in Psychiatry Retrieved from
  63. Young, D. (2015). Positive effects of spirituality in facilitating recovery for people with severe mental illness. International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 19(1), 5–12.Google Scholar
  64. Zschucke, E., Gaudlitz, K., & Strohle, A. (2013). Exercise and physical activity in mental disorders: Clinical and experimental evidence. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, 46(Suppl 1), S12–S21. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Monash Rural HealthMoeAustralia
  2. 2.School of Rural HealthMonash UniversityTraralgonAustralia

Personalised recommendations