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Spirituality and mental health

Kao, Larkin Elderon; Peteet, John R.; Cook, Christopher C.H.

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Larkin Elderon Kao

John R. Peteet


In many contexts, emotional ailments have been considered problems of religious or spiritual origin. Historically, religious groups were often the primary providers of mental health care. This changed over time with advances in medicine and Freud’s writings framing religion/spirituality (R/S) as a sign of neurosis. In the early- to mid-twentieth century, mental health and R/S were often viewed by Western clinicians and patients as separate and antithetical. Recent decades have been marked by another shift in thought, with increased interest in the overlap between mental health and R/S, and recognition that R/S may in fact serve protective and healing roles in the face of emotional suffering. There has been a concomitant increase in research investigating the connections between R/S and mental health, along with increased development and application of clinical interventions addressing the two in combination. In this narrative review, we summarize the history of how mental health and R/S have been viewed as relating to one another, recent research evidence on the effects of R/S on mental health, and clinical implications of these findings. We conclude with a discussion of ongoing challenges and opportunities in the study and application of how mental health and R/S affect one another.


Kao, L. E., Peteet, J. R., & Cook, C. C. (2020). Spirituality and mental health. Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 10(1), 42-54.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 17, 2020
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date Mar 6, 2020
Publicly Available Date Apr 17, 2021
Journal Journal for the Study of Spirituality
Print ISSN 2044-0243
Electronic ISSN 2044-0251
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 1
Pages 42-54


Accepted Journal Article (617 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal for the study of spirituality on 17 February 2020 available online:

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