American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

May 31, 2017
1 min read

Integrating spirituality, clinical care effective for mental health

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SAN DIEGO — Preliminary findings presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting indicated significant need and impact of a program that integrated spirituality into psychiatric care.

“Studies have shown significant main effects of spirituality on health,” Morgan Medlock, MD, MDiv, of McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, said here. “First, spirituality can influence symptom presentation, for example, religious delusions may be present in a patient with psychosis, or spiritual guilt may be a prominent symptom of a patient’s depression. Spirituality is not a cause of these symptoms but it does influence how a patient experiences their illness. Second, spirituality has also been shown to have a protective effect for many mental disorders. Spiritual beliefs and practices are generally associated with lower levels of depression, suicidality, substance use and other psychological symptoms. Thirdly, spirituality has been shown to help individuals cope with negative life events.”

To determine feasibility and interest in a spirituality and mental health consultation service for integrating spirituality into psychiatric treatment, researchers assessed patient and staff feedback after launching the Spirituality and Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital. Since the program launched 10 months ago, clinicians have been referred and treated approximately 40 individuals for case consultation. Data collection is ongoing.

Preliminary findings indicated strong positive feedback from patients and staff regarding the need and impact of the Spirituality and Mental Health Program.

“We have found that spirituality is not only important to our patients but is both feasible and acceptable to address this area of their lives in treatment. We hope that other institutions will consider this model of direct, clinical engagement in spiritual care as a way to better serve our patients who value spirituality,” Medlock said. – by Amanda Oldt


Medlock M, et al. McLean Hospital spirituality and mental health consultation service: A novel approach to integrated treatment. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 20-24, 2017; San Diego.

Disclosure: Medlock reports no relevant financial disclosures.