Qualitative Perspectives on Spirituality and Mental Well-Being Open Access

Jungerman, Joanna Meadow (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/xw42n832m?locale=en


While the worldwide burden of mental illness increases, many disorders, particularly anxiety and depression, go untreated or are treated unsuccessfully. The possible incorporation of spiritual or faith-based practices into mental health promotion models warrants further investigation. While over a thousand studies have reported a relationship between spirituality and mental health, there is a need for greater in-depth exploration of the mechanisms and processes through which spirituality enhances mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing. There is also a paucity of research on this topic outside of the Judeao-Christian realm. We organized five semi-structured focus group discussions with members of five diverse faith organizations across metro Atlanta. The purpose of the discussions was to elicit information on participants' personal spiritual practices and beliefs and the perceived associations between these practices and mental or emotional health. Data was transcribed, coded and analyzed using modified grounded theory. Analysis highlighted the importance of community and social interconnectedness to mental wellbeing. Participants also described increases in peaceful emotions and decreases in negative thought processes through prayer and meditative practice. Public health and mental health professionals should consider the potential benefits of spiritually-based therapies, social interconnectedness and mindfulness practices when devising mental health promotion programs and interventions.

Table of Contents

Introduction, 1

Literature Review, 6

Methods, 12

Results, 16

Discussion, 32

References, 43

Appendices, 50

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