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Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

The role of faith, spirituality & religion for people with mental health problems

Spirituality and religion were important to many of the people we interviewed. We spoke to people of different faiths, including Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jewish, as well as people who did not see themselves as being any particular religion. Spirituality meant different things to different people, but many people shared beliefs in the existence of God or Allah. Some people who weren't interested in organised religion had developed their own spiritual practices, including different forms of prayer or meditation. Only a few people said spirituality played no part in their life. 

Many people described a relationship between religion or spirituality and mental health. A few people who were Christian talked about their mental health as a 'spiritual experience'.

 

She says her mental health has been a spiritual experience and that there should be more focus on...

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She says her mental health has been a spiritual experience and that there should be more focus on...

Age at interview: 42
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 25
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And also the spirituality in mental health, that hasn't been assessed. because I'm, I mean maybe I'm going to sound completely mad now but I could swear that, you know I' you know, that, you know, some things that have happened to me, you know, I've either dreamed before or something like that. Do you know what I mean? I think I mean, you know, or, you know, and if you try and, try and tell the doctor that something spiritual as well as, I mean I always say as well as any insanity that I, as quite, I quite positively believe that I have experienced insanity in the true meaning of the word insanity. But in so saying, in the same breath I'll also say that I truly believe what I experience has been a spiritual experience as well. I know I've experienced insanity, you can, I will admit to that but as much as that I also think I've had a spiritual experience as well. So, you know, I'd like that to be more, more looked into, more investigated, more investigation into that.

How spirituality helped with mental health issues
Most people we talked to felt spirituality helped with mental health problems in some way. Some found support, prayers and visits from their religious group helpful, especially when in hospital. Others found independent meditation helpful - even those who didn't believe in prayer or God. (See 'Complementary & alternative medicine for mental health problems'.) Some people said their belief in God or support from other members of their faith had helped them overcome suicidal thoughts. A few people said that, when they felt depressed, 'at least God noticed' and they were therefore not alone. Another woman thought she would get depressed if she didn't have her spirituality. Several people were comforted by the idea of a loving and forgiving God who values each individual, whether or not they have mental health problems. Others felt their spirituality gave them courage, inspiration, strength and patience, including one woman who said her faith had helped her survive as a child in the care system. 

Several people, however, pointed out that religion on its own was not necessarily going to make you feel better. One man felt there was a limit to what advice he could give other people, as faith is such an individual matter. In another man's view, prayer helped only if used with medication. 

 

Hanif recalls being treated for possession and explains why he believes that a combination of...

Hanif recalls being treated for possession and explains why he believes that a combination of...

Age at interview: 49
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 23
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You know, initially people said, you know, maybe Hanif may be possessed. You know, which is kind of a cultural or religious thing to say, well actually because mental illness nobody, because nobody wants to acknowledge that it's an illness. We put it to an unknown external factor which is fine, you know, if that's as a way for coping. And in my experience, you know, being a Muslim I can understand why many Muslims around the world and especially in the UK, you know, Muslims of different faith or different Muslims of different culture, you know, whether you're Indian, Pakistani, Bengali or others because nobody wants to acknowledge that you have a psychological or psychological distress or mental health problem or issue. It's easy in a sense, it's a much better way to cope by actually saying it or explaining it that, you know, that it could be jinn possession or external possession. Because as Muslims we believe in jinn possession which is an unseen in terms of, you know, it's an unseen identity, you know. And we believe in it. So it's easy for us to cope because actually I mean he's or she's possessed, rather than actually come to terms with actually there might be something, you know, psychologically not well with the person, you know. Could be, you know. And of course with myself that was also explored in terms of, you know, to say well actually perhaps, you know, but. 

But I think I was glad to an extent that, you know, that I was, that I did go and see a psychiatrist and got medication because, you know, that's what helped me. And, and I always say fine you know, prayers, faith can always help but sometimes you need medication as well, you know. And the combination of the two actually perhaps might be, it certainly was for me because I think, you know, from a faith, you know, kind of mixing faith in terms of issues about religion, faith probably prayers and faith, you know. My parents because when I was, when I was ill and I was on medication and I remember sleeping for almost eighteen, twenty hours a day because the dosage that I was on lithium, I think I don't know whether it was it was my highs but, you know, the kind of experience that I remember is I used to just take my medication and then I was knocked out until so to speak.

And I was probably sleeping a lot and just waking up and just eating a lot because that was also probably part of why I put on some weight. But of course, you know, his faith that, you know, his son will get well and, you know, all that counts. So I think that, you know, was also I'm sure. And my own kind of, you know, belief systems I know very strongly, you know, say one cannot, it's an illness one needs to acknowledge that it's an illness, you know. And you need, you need some type of help and support. And for me, you know, lithium was very effective for me. But alongside, you know, my own faith and people around me was also helpful. So I think a combination, you know, for. And, and I always joke in my language or in terms of, you know, to say, you know, and I'm not sure whether I can explain it here but nevertheless I will, you know. And of course I speak Urdu and a couple of other of languages. But most often people say, well I say, 'Well there is no one cure,' you know. I say for me it's 'Dua and dawa' which translate as prayers and medicine. A combination could be a, could be useful or, you know, could be a cure. And for some if it's an illness then prayers on its own actually will be, will be useful and helpful, but it's not actually going to actually cure to a, especially if you have an illness like, you know, bipolar or manic depression. You know. I haven't come across anybody who's been, who's actually got, got well just by praying. You know, so I always say, you know, in, in our language or, you know, or if I'm asked to talk about my experience, you know, I always

Some people said their spirituality helped them to get through their problems or get better. One woman found prayer helped when she stopped drinking alcohol. A man diagnosed with schizophrenia said that joining a church helped him to stop doing alcohol and drug “cocktails” and that prayer helped with his sleeping problems. He also described how his spirituality enabled him to stop taking his medication and he had done so without informing his psychiatrist (patients should not stop medication without first consulting with a healthcare professional). After visiting Mecca and receiving a healing charm, one woman with depression began eating again and felt she was “suffering less”. Another Muslim woman also benefited from a blessing but expressed her fear of “black magic”. 

 

Marlene describes how an Islamic blessing helped her, but how people talk about the harm that can...

Marlene describes how an Islamic blessing helped her, but how people talk about the harm that can...

Age at interview: 38
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 24
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Yes, prayer does help. But sometimes when the people talk about it, they say they do black magic or stuff like that. Then you get scared. Then you don't know what to trust.

Who says about black magic?

It's like, you know, like Asian ladies, like they be poorly, and the people say that, 'Oh, they're doing black magic on you. And that's what it is.' And then because I've been in that, what you were saying, I've been, and I were well enough, I was scared. And the, the, when the woman talk, something come bad out of. And then you, you think, you get scared, you think. 'What to trust?'

So what happened? Sorry. Tell me again what happened. You, you went to see someone?

Yes, I went to see someone.

Who, who was that then you went to see?

It's like really. Bede. Like you've mentioned it now. Bede, we call in Asian, Bede. I don't know what you call it. Blesser. Like blesser. Yes, we went there. And I used to have like a problem with graves, stuff like that. I got that out there.

So how did that help? What happened? You don't know?

He just given me like, he asked me to read and stuff like that. And got, then went to about few years, I got, because he prayed for me, I know God give it to you, I got son as well with going there. I got son. And then afterwards like one woman, she, her blessings didn't come right. And she were talking, she goes, 'Oh, God, you never believe him, because they have like magic or stuff like that.' And that got me scared. And I rung him up. And that's straight person I am, that I can't take it. Once I'm scared, I can't take it. I picked the phone up and I said, 'I'm scared of you.' He goes, 'Oh, my God.' He goes to my husband, 'Your wife, wife's forward, you know, she says it in your face.' And he goes, 'We don't mind what she thinks, because she gets that fear and just in her mind tells her and stuff like that.' And he didn't mind since I didn't ring him up and I didn't talk to him. But my husband goes. Yes.

Okay. And did you say there's something, someone had said something and something bad happened?

Yes. But it's is, is not them. Like some people say it. It's like some people, like they can't control their selves. Or they only can pray for you. Is, God does help you. Like I come here. I didn't know I'm going to do an interview. But it's like I talk out what my feeling is. I didn't know it was going to happen like that when I came in. And it's like God always do best for you. We believe that way. And like when the bad day, we can't say, we can't blame on you, say, 'Oh, I came here and that's why I broke my foot' or stuff like that. If it happens, it happens, and that's what it is. And now I'm starting, because I think I'm maturer now, and I'm realising stuff. Before I used to be like panicking, and scary. I used to be like, anybody fall out with me, I feel guilty. Now I'm not. I just to be, probably that my body's changed to a different woman. I'm all different now. Nobody come bothers me, nothing now. Because my sister used to be fall out with me, I used to run out and please like, 'Sorry' like that. Now I'm not. I've got stubborn [Laughs].

So when, you know, when these prayers, you think they were, were helping?

Yes, they help yeah.

Do you think, how, how do you think they helped? Is that because you think, well, do you think the, the, the, the things that you needed help with were, were something to do with God in the
 

Reena describes her symptoms of depression and how she felt better after going to Mecca and...

Reena describes her symptoms of depression and how she felt better after going to Mecca and...

Age at interview: 42
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 32
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I was still suffering, I used to feel awful. I did not enjoy anything, I would only feel nice if I sat down quietly on my own. So at that time I asked my husband to give up work. But he did not, used to go out with them to the park for fresh air. It went on like this for about six months, six months. After that my husband planned to take me to Mecca for a pilgrimage. He thought that if we went there Allah would fix all the problems. At that time I stopped eating for about a month.

You lost your appetite?

Lost my appetite totally. So he took me to the pilgrimage. We stayed there for two weeks.

All of you?

All of us, everyone and we stayed for about nine days. After that he said let's go to Bangladesh. So went to Bangladesh. We stayed there for about one and a half to two months. After we went there they gave me a charm. It's called by or something; said that it would get better. So after getting to Bangladesh there was some change. I started eating again from the second day I was in Mecca, I started eating. The suffering was less than before.

Was it after going to Bangladesh?

After going to Bangladesh…

Now auntie, I am asking questions because a lot of the ladies go to the Mullahs and we want to find out about that did any of that help you?

I feel that both of them helped me.

What did they give you? A talisman?

They gave me special water and oil and told me that somebody did a spell on me. So a talisman normally works against magic. Towards the end I myself got treatment from a Mullah, I felt that helped. After a little while I got better.

Spirituality also acted as a “coping mechanism” by providing therapeutic “time out” for rebalancing, relaxation or distraction. Some said it gave them a reason to want to go on. One man described prayer as a way of avoiding “bottling things up”. A Christian man recommended meditation as something that can be done at anytime, anywhere. 

 

Anton describes what is helpful about prayer and meditation, especially when depressed.

Anton describes what is helpful about prayer and meditation, especially when depressed.

Age at interview: 64
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 45
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Oh yes, praying helps in a sense, that it's not bottling things up, right, you just pray, and God is not going to argue and contradict you. And you can pray any time, you give up your load like problems aired is problem shared and the famous hymn, 'What a friend we have in Jesus, all our grief's and sins to bear'. But what would help really is praying and meditating, if you pray, and if you meditate on some scripture verses. He cares for you. You know. He knows your' he has great plans for you. So like that. 'Yea though I walk through the Valley of Shadow of Death, I will be with you.' So a person can pray and get a Bible verse and meditate, that will be a great help. Meditation's a great help. 

Do you use meditation?

I do meditate because being an Asian, that's the culture. It naturally come. So I meditate.

What kind of, so do you use verse or '?

A Christian meditation, you know. Like for example, now I do some preaching in the church to, I used to, but now with all this gone. So when I used to do preaching, what I used to do is that the previous night before I go to bed, I read a passage, the scriptures. And the next morning, when I am driving to Newcastle-on-Tyne, right five hour drive I will be meditating and thinking about it, so thoughts will come in, and then when I get off at Newcastle, I'll just note the, jot the points down. On the, my return I will refine it. Sermon's done. 

Does the meditation help when you are feeling depressed?

Oh yes, it helps. At least it takes you mind off. This is the thing with meditation. Even when you are not depressed, if you've got bad thoughts. Or if you have got some sort of problem and you are worried about it. When you meditate, you can switch off, you think about something pleasant or something like that and then that will lessen the pain, and if you go on, then suddenly you forget, why, why was I, why was I worried about things. So I always recommend people to sit down and meditate and you can meditate anywhere, any time, any situation. You don't need somebody else to hold your hand.

When spirituality doesn't help
Some thought spirituality or religion sometimes didn't help or could make things worse, depending on the particular church or the state of a person's mental health. For example, one man felt bad because he wanted to achieve 'moral perfection' but couldn't. Some said they needed practical help, but their church or temple didn't help. Others said they received support and had felt welcome and accepted.

Some who found prayer helpful but said that nothing helped when they were very unwell. A woman diagnosed with psychotic depression described how Buddhism helped her to challenge her negative thinking and control her thoughts. She felt meditation helped her to avoid psychotic episodes, but said it was impossible to meditate when she was psychotic because the voices got in the way. Others found prayer unhelpful in general.

A few people talked about how they thought that religion had triggered mental health problems, “weird thoughts” or suicidal feelings (others found that spirituality helped to diminish suicidal feelings). Some mentioned that their interest in spirituality changed when unwell, including one man who described his spirituality as sometimes being more of a “hindrance”. [See Lorenz below]. A few people said their faith had been tested, including one woman who was in an abusive marriage. She said that feeling rejected by God triggered her depression. Another man said that the “curse” of depression made him feel as though “the hand of God was against me”.

 

This man of Sikh faith says reading the Sikh Bible - Guru Granth Sahib - can sometimes make him...

This man of Sikh faith says reading the Sikh Bible - Guru Granth Sahib - can sometimes make him...

Age at interview: 55
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 54
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You have talked earlier about religion like when in BHS and you got a blackout and you started using your words. Do you get any help from religion to solve your problems e.g. mental problem …?

I don't understand.

E.g. reciting hymns, reading holy books, meditation or religious prayers are helpful to the soul.

Yes, it is helpful but you know our Bible is little bit depressive. It talks too deeply that you get depressed.

Can you give me some examples of how it depresses you?

For example, there is a line Farida Hamra Ko Nahi Hum Kissi Ke Nahi which means Baba Farid says nobody belongs to me on this earth and even I don't belong to anybody. If I don't belong to anybody then why should I go closer to anybody and if I want to go close then people don't let me come closer.

Then by thinking this the person then becomes more depressed?

Yes, yes, there are many proverbs that depress you. I am a person who reads the Bible, you know in the Sikh Temple they read one Bible within 48 hours start to finish non stop.

Do you say Bible to Guru Granth Sahib Ji?

Yes, I say Bible to Guru Granth Sahib Ji and every two hours the person is changed and they read 30 pages an hour. I used to read it and understand it little bit. I have Guru Granth Sahib ji at my home and also I have a translation of it but I don't use the translation because it makes me depressive.

You get some pain from Bible, do you gain anything?

Yes, the gain is that these phrases tell you that you should manage yourself but if you see that nobody comes to your home then take it to the other side. It has both sides, negative and positive. Where your mind is locked you got stuck over there.

So it may be positive or it maybe on the other side.

Yes, yes, but if you have nobody then you make yourself in that way and make yourself busy and leave everything on God. But when person is in pain he doesn't take it positively then he only takes it negatively. When a person is healthy then he goes to people and gives examples and when he takes at his own then he doesn't take it positive and think only in a negative side.

 

This woman who escaped an abusive marriage describes feeling abandoned by God and how this tested...

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This woman who escaped an abusive marriage describes feeling abandoned by God and how this tested...

Age at interview: 48
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 47
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 For a long time I blamed God. I blamed God for the marriage, I blamed God because my husband, ex-husband was abusive. I blamed God because I just thought well, if, you know if you're all powerful, if you're in total control, if you know you order my footsteps, if, you know, all, everything that happens to me, is your purpose for my life, then you must have purposed for me to be with this beast and as such, do I really want a relationship with you, if this is what you have purposed for my life, if you are supposed to love me so much? And because God is the one who loves me more than anybody else, because God is the one who, you know, regardless of what my Bible may say, if I do anything contrary to my Bible I know that God's love continues for me. And yet, he allowed me to be with this person? How could that happen? How could that happen? And I just couldn't equate that in my head. I could not equate that in my head.

Christian friends kept saying to me, 'Focus on the promises of God, focus on the promises of God, you know, where he will never leave you, never, he will never leave you and he will never leave you alone, where He can deliver you from all circumstances and situations where He will love you unconditionally, where, you know, your illnesses, He can deliver you from illnesses.' Where all of those things are true, then why this? And that's what was going through my head and I just thought, felt, that' God was just doing to me, what my Dad had done. And he too, was rejecting me, and he was so busy, you know, doing grand plans for other people's lives that he'd missed me, and I was the one that was sitting behind him all the time, and, because of that I was the one who was going through all of this horror, all of this stuff, and he just didn't see it, he just didn't see it. And that broke me. That broke me. And, and I think that is how my depression came in.

Others talked about the way that mental health problems are seem by some as 'possession' by jinn, spirits or the devil. One 49 year old Indian Muslim [see Hanif above] and one 50 year old Afro-Caribbean Christian described how, in their early twenties, their psychosis was interpreted as possession. 

 

Lorenz recalls how he believed he was possessed, describes his individual approach to...

Lorenz recalls how he believed he was possessed, describes his individual approach to...

Age at interview: 50
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 20
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With this psychosis thing I have To tell you that it's more, it can be a hindrance, it really can be a hindrance. Being religious, being spiritual I live a prayer life and every kind of inward communion or conversation with the power recognised as divine can trigger a psychosis episode, like hearing voice of God etc; I have to pitch my religious belief, so that it look intellectually respectable that can stand criticism and cannot proclaim one's inspired by God to those who knows I am a schizophrenic but the Fundamentalist get away with it and people without a serious in remission mental illness can speak to God and not seen as crazy. I was possessed by the devil, I felt possessed but I never believed in a devil as a spirit of a bad person in a celestial place called hell. The term was widely used in the 70s and 80s to describe negative soul energy from an ill mind that trick the body to do bizarre things. I perceived that I had the devil in me but it really was not it's the mind playing tricks, like I say my mind was disturbed. A disturbed mind, nothing coming from outside of me into me, nothing, you've got your own spirits we all been born and created with spirit and so on. We don't know where anything comes from, we don't know, we really don't know anything really. Most explanation centre on supernatural creator and it is a matter of faith with a science mixture that make up my belief.

People make up ideas on it, when I come to think of it, it's ideas about God, that's what's flying round the place, everybody has got their own ideas about God. Nobody know what God looks like, nobody on this earth, we've seen, we are on a planet, we do not know there's existence out there, we don't know if there's supernatural thing, there are force out there, there's a force in us, a creative thing. I just think it's a force and you can't say it's a person, you can't say, can name it but the only name in the human language you can give it is a god. That's the only name we can associate it as being something we can comprehend. Some people say, call this same God, Jesus or whatever or Buddha or whatever.

Some people from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds were critical of religion and religious leaders. They said that religion taught people unquestioning belief. Others said that people from religious groups discriminated against people with mental health problems instead of welcoming them and this was hypocritical because it went against the teaching of their religion. As a result, one young man felt rejected by his faith whilst others developed their own individual spirituality. One Latin American woman who said she had a fear of God described spirituality as 'taking time for yourself and respecting yourself and others'. Others drew on different aspects of various religions and one woman drew on elements of both Christianity and witchcraft. 

 

Edward describes his own individual spirituality which helped him to overcome suicidal feelings.

Edward describes his own individual spirituality which helped him to overcome suicidal feelings.

Age at interview: 59
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 20
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I back peddle on this spirituality thing because I think it is actually, it's up to the individual to find their own way through it or around it or whatever and I feel lucky that the first time I felt suicidal and was going to drive my car off a cliff top in Sydney, I had it planned, I stopped the car at the base of the cliff and walked along the beach, don't know why, I just parked the car. And after I'd walked one length, 1' lengths, it's about, it's about a 3 mile beach I suppose I felt this, there I felt the size of a 50p piece a neutrality. You know, I tell you about anxiety and all these other feelings you get when you're depressed? It was a neutral bit and it got there, and with every pace the neutral bit sort of started to expand and spread all over me and I thought I've never felt neutral in my life before at all now so that was my version of a miracle. You know, I know officially the Catholic church will say that's not a miracle it has to be, it has to be approved by, it has to follow certain guidelines, they've even got a miracle committee in the Vatican somewhere there as far as I know, or that I heard. So yes that's my version of a miracle to me and there have been a few since then and I feel it's helped me understand that there are certain things beyond my control and I've got to let those things be dealt with by whatever, not by me. I can only change the things I can change, you know, like in the AlAnon self-help prayer, you know. So yeah, so it's important to me but I would say I don't like to talk about it on the basis of it being the same for everybody because I don't think it is. And I would never want to impose my belief system or faith on somebody else, that's not the way I don't see it like that. I don't see it as a tribal thing like joining a group and you've got to believe in this and that, you know, and some kind of indoctrination scheme, which is often what they are. You know, if they're not arrived at spontaneously by yourself well then it, it does seem to be an indoctrination thing, which fair enough some people really need that or they like that or they, they want that but that's not the way I can operate. So I really do think it's up to the individual to find their letting go mechanism the best way they can because you've got to be able to let go of some things you can't change, you must be able to do that. So if you call that spirituality alright but that's all it is, you start at that point and then find out what the rest of it means to you.

And is that, that's what it does for you then, it's your point of letting go?

It is, it is, it has to be, it has to be, otherwise I'd feel disempowered about the things I couldn't change. It's a, it's a trap if I can't learn to let go and whatever the method I use, is a spiritual method.

And do you have a particular religion that you believe in?

No I haven't been able to do that, I haven't been able to do that. Look I've spent quite a lot of time [four second pause] as an attender at Quaker meetings, I've been to two or three or their enquiries weekends, they've got a special sort of what do you call it a retreat for people who are enquiring about Quakerism, they conduct those in, up in Oxfordshire, I've been to three of those. last one was in 2001 and, 2002 I think and I've been to various Meeting Houses to try and find out which group suits me, I haven't found one. I haven't found one so now I'm not going to bother with that any more because it. They don't quite suit my belief system, I'm just a little bit, most of what they, most of, most of their the Friends they call themselves appeals to me, the way they go about things but there's, there's also that little bit of tribalism in there and that group joining and one group doesn't talk to the other and so
 

Tariq feels religion is hypocritical and he feels rejected by his faith because he has a mental...

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Tariq feels religion is hypocritical and he feels rejected by his faith because he has a mental...

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 18
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I think that, and a lot of people in this society are very religious and surely religion says you should love the poor, the vulnerable etcetera so why wouldn't they meet a vulnerable person, like I'm not going near that person. But what happened to your religious beliefs? Surely religion tells you to take care of people that are sick, that are, that are, when I mean sick that are very unwell or very poor or unable to carry on their life as the, they're going and require that support, require that befriending. If you start excluding them what kind of religion is that? 

And the thing what I've learnt about is that even in my religion it's frowned upon and I've seen that in a lot of the monotheistic faiths like Christianity, Islam and Judaism it's regarded as the devil, the as a, not as a sin but as if the devil has entered you and it's like you're possessed, that's the word possessed. And I've, like when I've done sort of searches on the internet and stuff I've read like different interpretations of scholars and religious leaders and they all say that people that have mental health they're all possessed and that they're sinners and that we need to help them to repent from their sins and from, and take that possessive devil out of them because they've been corrupted and etcetera. And it's very sad because I'm quite spiritual and I've got mental health difficulties so it's either that I'm a part of that religion or you're telling me, you know, I can only be a part when I don't have mental health difficulty but then if I do get, go away, you know, you're not wanted any more. 

So, you know, it concerns me that even religions that came from centuries and centuries ago before mental health, mental health difficulties even came into existence, you know, people experienced and stuff these religions are openly discriminating against people that experience mental health. Because even in the text books and stuff it says that people that have mental health difficulties are possessed and when you, when I've actually, I've actually tried to ask religious leaders but every time they do they always, they don't answer my questions, they're like, 'I haven't got time, I need to go, I can't answer that question, I need to go, I'm busy, come back another time.' When I go back another time they're not there so they try to deflect from answering any questions. And it concerns me because it makes me feel that I've been, without me knowing, thrown out of a religion which I thought I was a member of. and the thing is that I, I was shocked when I read all these articles, one by one I was going through each article how the bible perceives mental health, how the Torah or the Koran and all the other religious books from other faiths and all of them say people that have mental health or psychological they, they, they have flaws in them, in their character and that means that they've been possessed by the devil and the devil has taken over them and they've, you know, the devil is inside them. And in a lot of countries in the non-developed world, you know, there are cases where people are like that are killed. You know, I've, you hear about it in places like Africa, in Asia where it's seen as a shame on the family and therefore that person has to be killed because the devil is inside them. To take the devil out you have to kill that person, thank God it's not here in the developed world but, you know, this barbaric sort of way of treating people is still occurring and our world leaders do nothing about it.

Very few people described themselves as not being spiritual. One man said he had tried to, but didn't believe in God and felt no connection with him. He couldn't understand how spirituality could help his depression. Another woman who also didn't believe in God described religion as “superstitious” and said she'd only tried prayer when she was “desperate”.

Mental health services and spiritual matters
Some people thought that spiritual matters were missing from mental health assessments and service provision - just one woman described having Christian counselling. Some people felt that if there was any provision for religious beliefs within services it was only for Christianity - a few saw this as further evidence of the dominance of a White western establishment. People also felt that religion is misjudged in mental health services. For example, one man thought that services see spirituality as evidence of mental ill health. He said that you can be intelligent and deeply religious. A few people felt they had experienced discrimination because of their faith. One man felt staff were more afraid he'd be violent because he expressed strong religious feeling. Others felt staff made assumptions about them because of their ethnicity; including one Asian man who was a Christian, but thought staff assumed he was Muslim.

Last reviewed September 2018.

Last updated February 2013.

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