Edited by Peter Gilbert
This book emphasises the importance of assessing and treating people with mental health problems in a holistic manner, paying particular attention to any spiritual needs, which are so often ignored in mainstream psychiatric services, writes Tina Coldham.
At first glance, one might see a weighty tome on a weighty subject and, at £35, it’s a weighty price. However, the 23 differently-authored chapters reference spirituality across many aspects of mental health understanding and practice. It’s not a quick guide to religion, but it does help the reader understand that, while formal religious practice has declined somewhat in the West, there has been a growth in spiritual values and expression in people. As a result, spirituality and mental health is evolving.
The book is aimed at service users, carers and practitioners, and I particularly think care staff should get their organisations to buy it and share it around. I’m a devout sceptic, but by reading this book I was helped to reflect on my own understanding of what is important. It is littered with helpful reflective exercises, vignettes and diagrams to aid understanding.
I would have liked to have seen more in-depth narrative accounts of peoples’ mental health crises in relation to their spiritual understandings, but this could be the basis for a whole new book. Ultimately, Spirituality and Mental Health shows that people in mental health crisis need skilled interventions to help them make sense of their lives.
Tina Coldham is a mental health user consultant
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