Treading lightly: Spirituality issues in mental health nursing Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Spirituality has been recognized as an important part of nursing practice since its early beginnings. However, debate continues about whether and how nurses and other mental health professionals should include spirituality within their daily work. This paper aims to contribute to the discussion of spirituality within mental health nursing, through considering findings from a Heideggerian phenomenological study conducted with six people with mental illness living in regional Australia. This study aimed to provide a greater understanding of the phenomenon of spirituality by answering a primary research question, 'What does spirituality mean for people with a mental illness?' Participants were interviewed and data analysed using an iterative approach. Findings emerged through multiple readings and meanings were gradually constructed from the data into themes. The themes describe that spirituality is experienced uniquely for the participants, and that spirituality became vitally important to them when they became mentally unwell. In addition, issues of interest to mental health nurses were raised but not completely addressed by the study. The issues relate to potential interactions about spirituality between nurses and their patients. Although participants wanted to discuss their experiences of spirituality with others, they raised concerns about whether their mental health care providers would be accepting of their beliefs. Spirituality was deemed to be a highly individual phenomenon; it could be experienced as a journey and it was life-sustaining. For these reasons, it is proposed that mental health professionals must be prepared to discuss patients' spiritual needs in the context of their health concerns.

publication date

  • June 2006

has subject area