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The role of spirituality in mental health and recovery is being explored in a PhD by Katja Milner, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Nottingham Doctoral Training Centre from 2016 to 2021. Spirituality in both religious and non-religious forms is important in many people’s recovery. However, there is a ‘religiosity gap’ in the difference in value placed on spirituality and religion by mental health professionals compared with service users. As a result, spiritual needs are often neglected in clinical practice. The aim of this study is to improve understanding about spirituality and mental health.

Stage 1: The MISTIC Study

A qualitative systematic review identified and thematically analysed 38 peer reviewed studies here. Six themes emerged, giving the acronym MISTIC:

  • Meaning-making
  • Identity
  • Service-provision
  • Talk about it
  • Interaction with symptoms
  • Coping

MISTIC resources to prompt conversation on spirituality and mental health

Access new user-friendly and evidenced-based resources based on the MISTIC study themes to help reflect upon, prompt conversation around and explore the topic of spirituality, mental health and wellbeing. A general wellbeing resource, the MISTIC Toolkit with reflective questions, is available here. A resource targeted at clinicians, practitioners and therapists, the MISTIC Framework with clinical considerations, is available here.

Stage 2: Exploring stories of spirituality and mental health

A narrative study used interviews to explore the role of spirituality for people who experience mental health difficulties, focussing specifically on the way people use spirituality to find meaning in their experiences and how this process develops over time. The research will develop theory to inform training resources for clinicians to better understand service user’s spiritual experiences and provide for their spiritual needs.

For further information about the MISTIC Study please contact Katja Milner:  katja.milner@nottingham.ac.uk