Recovery from mental illness is a deeply personal process unique to each individual, involving the strengthening of the person's sense of meaning and purpose, personal identity, and well-being. Many persons in recovery indicate that religion and spirituality are important resources for dealing with mental health difficulties. Yet religion and spirituality can also play negative roles in recovery by exacerbating self-blame, guilt, and a sense of abandonment, as well as promoting a view that mental illness signifies spiritual failure. While a number of quantitative studies have identified a positive link between religion/spirituality and mental health outcomes for people with serious mental illness, fewer of those studies have looked at recovery as process than outcome, and little is known about the relationship of religiousness and spirituality to self-stigma among mental health clients.
This research investigates the association of religiousness and spirituality to proxies (i.e., variables that are used to represent unobservable constructs of interest) of both psychosocial well-being and self-stigma among mental health clients through bivariate and multivariate analyses. In this study, recovery is understood as process; religiousness is defined as self-identification with an institutionalized religion; and spirituality is framed as perception of self as religious or spiritual without identifying with any special religion. This study is a secondary analysis of data collected by the Center for Self-Help Research in Berkeley, California, between 1996 and 2000, on a sample of 673 new users of self-help and community mental health agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area (Segal, Hardiman, & Hodges, 2002). Results show that both religiousness and spirituality were significantly associated with proxies of both psychosocial well-being and self-stigma, after accounting for clients' demographic, clinical, and agency characteristics. The unique contributions of this study are that it: (1) shows that both religiousness and spirituality are associated with proxies of self-stigma, i.e., increased social distance and prejudiced attitude toward psychiatric patients; (2) demonstrates that the relationship between religiousness and self-stigma among mental health clients is non-linear; (3) emphasizes the proper use of statistical methods including assumption checking and adjustment for multiple testing; and (4) introduces a visual recovery narrative (model) as an aid to understanding the concept of recovery. The implications of this study for social work practice, research, and education include: (1) the possibility that the currently accepted polarized view of negative religiousness versus positive spirituality may not hold; (2) the call for training and education of social workers in religion and spirituality; (3) the need for long-term qualitative and quantitative studies to investigate the process of recovery; and (4) the importance of incorporating assumption checking and adjustment for multiple testing into social work research.
|Advisor:||Segal, Steven P.|
|Commitee:||Austin, Michael J., Rosch, Eleanor|
|School:||University of California, Berkeley|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Mental health, Fine arts, Spirituality|
|Keywords:||Mental illness, Photography, Recovery, Religion, Self-stigma, Spirituality|
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