The Connection Between Spiritual Practice and Mental Health

“By inner humility plus wisdom, the seeker of Truth takes serious note of the inherent limitations of the human psyche itself, and no longer relies on the impressionable personal ego as its sole arbiter of Truth.” 

David R. Hawkins, MD, Ph.D. 


The Connection Between Spiritual Practice and Mental HealthI have been on both sides of the therapy office: the therapist and the patient. Years ago, before becoming a licensed therapist, I was the patient—a 22-year-old Philosophy major and a self-proclaimed Agnostic. At the time, I doubted that spirituality had anything to do with my problems or mental health. I now believe that spiritual practice and mental health are inextricably linked.  


I have observed as well as experienced that much suffering has to do with unanswered questions. We are naturally curious beings. We have a need to understand many "whys:” Why do bad things happen to our loved ones or us? Why is there starvation, war, and tragedy? Life can begin to feel hopeless. Spiritual practice helps us to accept that some things are beyond our understanding. We are guided to have humility that even when certain things do not make sense to us, there is a bigger picture and plan. In fact, we do not need to understand it all. We can pray and support others without understanding it one bit.  


We can also receive support ourselves—Spiritual practice lends itself to community. When mental health struggles appear, sometimes just spending time in the company of other people is sufficient to lift our spirits. We can also ask others for prayer or advice and hear what has been helpful for them in similar situations. We are never alone, even when things feel that way.  


God guides us to find Him, sometimes through the therapist. Patients will say to me more than ever: “I don’t believe in God. I am all alone.” Then I recall how my therapist, without even sharing her beliefs, helped guide me through my doubt. I know now that she is deeply spiritual, but I had no idea at the beginning. Somehow an inexplicable grace filled the space she provided. Perhaps she silently prayed, as I do now: Father, You created this person and You know what they need right now. I am giving this conversation to You. From there, it is up to God’s grace. 


This article first appeared in the OLP Quarterly, Volume 3, Issue 1 in 2022. 


Christa Overson, MSE, LMFT