Religion and spirituality integral in supporting mental health

22 February 2023

A study conducted by a CQUniversity PhD candidate has found that religion and spirituality play an integral part in supporting the mental health of people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

PhD candidate Shikha Malviya's study titled The Need for Integration of Religion and Spirituality into the Mental Health Care of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations in Australia: A Rapid Review' was recently published in the Journal of Religion and Health.

"Religion and spirituality have a central role in the mental health of people from CALD background'" Shikha said.

"Despite this' it's not typically included in their mental health care in Australia.

"Research suggests that uptake of mental health services among people from CALD backgrounds is low."

Shikha's research found that individuals from CALD backgrounds drew strength and comfort from their religion to support their mental health' and often relied on religious or spiritual practices as mental health strategies to cope with mental health concerns.

"Additionally' religious leaders may play a significant role in mental health care for some CALD communities as they are often contacted for support and advice'" she said.

"Involvement of religious leaders may be an important step for mental health education and care for some CALD communities. Furthermore' we need to provide more in-depth training for mental health workers' especially those who provide care for CALD populations."

Shikha said Australia' as a multicultural country' had to provide inclusive care to all Australians' regardless of religious' linguistic and cultural background. To achieve this' mental health care may need to evolve to meet the changing needs of Australians.

Shikha's PhD thesis explores how religious and spiritual practices can be effectively and appropriately used to promote mental wellbeing.

"I am fortunate to have an absolutely amazing supervisory team' and CQUniversity has supported me every step of the way'" she said.

"For me' my thesis represents much more than an academic pursuit. I firmly believe that religions and spiritual traditions have a great deal to offer' even though people are often hesitant to discuss this topic for obvious reasons."

You can read Shikha's paper here.