A Missing Link in Mental Health (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)

Do you know someone with a mental health condition? Or maybe that person is you.

Almost everyone knows someone who suffers or has suffered from a mental health condition. Let’s look at the stats: One in 5 Americans are affected by mental health conditions yearly.

That’s an astounding 43.8 million reported, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health—no doubt leaving a significant amount of unreported cases, as well. As mental health continues to be a growing concern, it’s important to look at the whole picture to promote balance and in turn healing.

When you think of mental health, do you also associate it with spirituality? (You’re not alone if you don’t.)

Spirituality plays an important role in mental health, without a doubt. Now I’m not necessarily talking about religion here. (Although for some, religion is a key player in their spiritual health.) But spirituality is about so much more.

When I say “spirituality,” I’m talking about connection. Everyone shares three core spiritual hungers:

  1. To be seen
  2. To be heard
  3. To matter

When these core spiritual hungers are not met, all kinds of mental and physical imbalances can develop. And this disconnection causes so many mental health conditions.

Disease results from a combination of genetics and the environment. Another way to say this is that disease is the result of physiological imbalances or disordered living (or both). Disconnection (poor spiritual health) is a key feature of disordered living.

It is only through a connection that you will achieve life balance. This is the crux of how spiritual health influences physical and mental health.

I know … that was a lot to take in, just stay with me and know that you can achieve this balance!

There are three key types of spirituality you need for optimal mental health:

  1. Personal spirituality, which refers to your personal journey and is defined by your exploration of your own beliefs. (This is the part of spirituality that may contain religion—though it doesn’t have to.)
  2. Environmental spirituality, which requires you to consider your place in the world and is defined by your relationship with the environment, the earth and the universe.
  3. Communal spirituality, which encourages you to find a sense of purpose and world connection with others and your community.

Without communal spirituality, it’s tough to find your sense of purpose in the world and see that world connection within yourself.

To develop your communal spirituality and achieve optimal spiritual health, you must go forth and find a connection with others.

The word “communal” means shared by all members of a community. Your community refers to a feeling of fellowship with others based on shared experiences, traits, interests, goals or beliefs.

This can include your church, your family, your friends, neighbors, etc. By taking time to connect with those around you, you develop that healthy communal spirituality.

Overcoming mental health conditions through spirituality

By taking time to work on these three areas of spiritual health, you can and will find the connection your mind and body crave. Over time as you do this, you will see a transformation in your mental health and overall outlook.

Connection and community are key in this process. Never underestimate the power of a support system!

Photo credit: Alexis Brown, Unsplash