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Clergy-Spirituality Connection

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The Connection Between Mental Health & Spirituality

"Spirituality is the process of pursuing meaning and purpose in life. Any activity that we undertake that has as its goal the pursuit of meaning and purposefulness in life is, in some way, spirituality." – Marvin J. Southard, DSW, Director, Los AngelesCounty Dept. of Mental Health

What is Spirituality? According to the California Mental Health & Spirituality Initiative, “spirituality is a person’s deepest sense of belonging and connection to a higher power or life philosophy, which may not necessarily be related to a religious institution.”Progress Report
Spirituality can enhance coping skills and accelerate recovery. In Los Angeles County, at least 80% of residents say they use spiritual beliefs to cope with difficulties in life¹.

  • Faith organizations can be sources of support for individuals dealing with mental health issues
  • In many situations faith leaders serve as “First responders,” to individuals in crisis, meaning that more than 40% of individuals seek initial mental health assistance from faith leaders rather than mental health practitioners1
  • Spirituality and mental health are just two aspects of the “whole person”
  • While in the past spirituality has not played a role in traditional mental health care, DMH aims to make the use of spirituality available for those consumers for whom this aspect of their mental health treatment plan is important

For more information, go to:
Or contact the California Institute of Mental Health at (916) 556-3480

¹ Mental Health Ministries e-Spotlight, Winter 2010

Related Information

Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)

Prevention & Early Intervention
Phone: (213) 251-6712
Fax: (213) 252-8749