Faith and Prayer Help Mental Illness

Do you pray to God? Do you have faith in a higher power? Forgive me for asking such personal questions, but you might want to take a minute and ask yourself, “Does faith and prayer help fight mental illness?” Recently, a study was brought to light that indicates that faith and prayer do indeed help a person’s mental state. There are many people who will swear that when they were ill, prayer helped them. At the very least, prayer helps a person get through very difficult situations. Prayer and faith can help a person focus their attention on getting well.

It is known that with diseases such as cancer, HIV, AIDS, and other life-threatening conditions, a positive state of mind is something that helps the physical body. Even the most educated doctors will agree with this.

A recent report from the Britian Health Education Authority cites that prayers and scripture readings could help the fight against mental illness as much as a trip to the psychiatrist. This report has generated many questions, and some concerns, mostly among doctors who prefer to take a biological approach to treating psychiatric disorders. Critics of the report claim that trying to heal mental illness with prayer alone is akin to the Christian Church of Scientology, and that lives can be lost.

Often times, treating mental illness and the concept of faith and prayer do clash. Some therapists refuse to take a religious approach in their practices, while others do nothing but spiritual counseling. Then there is the issue of whether or not churches are qualified to deal with mental illness. Some churches may even shun the idea of having someone in their congregation who has a “psychiatric disorder”.

“Priests and rabbis aren’t going to be qualified adequately to deal with someone with mental illness by themselves. But we should not underestimate the support they can give”, HEA spokesman Gary Ward says. “Reassurance and practical assistance in the end may be very helpful.”

Another spokeswoman for the program, Lynne Friedli, states “Church leaders and their congregations can do a great deal to involve people with mental health programs. It is also important for mental health professionals recognize and acknowledge the religious and spiritual beliefs of their clients as an important alternative source of help and support.”

The incorporation of faith into the array of tools used to treat mental illness should be considered by all those dedicated to beating this illness. There are many approaches to treat an illness outside of medications and psychotherapy; among these are more holistic approaches, of which prayer has proved to be as efficacious as more conventional techniques.

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