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How Spirituality Can Improve Mental Health

WOW Chaplaincy is the first humanist chaplaincy in Australia providing spiritual care to the workplace and community. We are non-denominational and the bridge between secular and non secular faith.

We also have access to faith based chaplains recognising the diversity of Australia including those who practices Islam and Buddhism. All of our services are designed to up-scale and we currently support the Barangaroo precinct.

We provide three core offerings:

  1. First Responder to disasters -- our chaplains are all trained in disaster chaplaincy response

  2. Prevention Services for Mind. Body. Spiritual Wellness

  3. Advocacy - Mental Health, Domestic and Family Violence, Respectful Relationships - Older People, End of Life Education

  4. Rituals - an important human acknowledgement of difficult journeys


An interesting fact: During Covid19 many people are questioning their own sense of meaning and purpose and this has formed the basis of many Covid19 chaplaincy conversations. It is in essence what spirituality is about.

Whilst it is true that institutionalised religion is becoming less popular and people generally are becoming less religious, it would be a mistake to assume that they are necessarily becoming less spiritual, or they are no longer searching for a sense of transcendence and spiritual fulfilment. What seems to have happened is that the spiritual beliefs and desires that were once located primarily within institutionalised religions have migrated across to other forms of spirituality. The migration of spirituality from the religious to the secular has led to a change in the meaning of spirituality, as popularly conceived.

Spirituality has become a wide and multi-focal concept (ie it has many different meanings and interpretations), which is understood and interpreted in numerous different ways, from Christianity to Buddhism, to Islam, humanism and New Age (Barnum 1998).

While people use many different religions and paths to express their spirituality, ​research has shown that those who are more spiritual and use their spirituality to cope with life, experience many benefits to their health and well-being.1

For many, this news would come as no surprise; spirituality and religious activity have been a source of comfort and relief from stress for multitudes of people. In fact, according to a study from the University of Florida in Gainesville and Wayne State University in Detroit, older adults use prayer more than any other alternative therapies for health; 96% of study participants use prayer specifically to cope with stress.

Spirituality and Mental Health

Systemic reviews of research literature have consistently reported that aspects of spiritual involvement are desirable with mental health outcomes.(Bergin 1988: Dyson et al. 1977; Gartner et al. 1991; Larson, Swers and McCullough 1997, Martsolf and Mickley 1998; Mickley et al. 1995).Spirituality has been shown to be positively correlated with Depression (Karp 1996; Morris 1996), anxiety (Baker and Gorsuch 1982), addictions (Koski-Jaennes and Turner 1999; Miller 1998), suicide prevention (Gartner et al. 1991) and schizophrenia (chu and Klein 1985). There is therefore evidence to support the suggestion that spirituality is relevant to mental health care practices and that it has the potential to benefit people's experiences of working towards mental wellness.

However, we have picked up some ambiguity surrounding some of the research.

That said, the ability of spirituality to bring about well-being is a significant theme in all of the literature.

Akbari M, Hossaini SM. The Relationship of Spiritual Health with Quality of Life, Mental Health, and Burnout: The Mediating Role of Emotional Regulation. Iran J Psychiatry. 2018;13(1):22-31.

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