Faith in God may boost mental illness treatment
A new study from Harvard Medical School concludes that people with faith in God may experience a boost in treatment for mental illness. Though the study did not look at specific spiritual beliefs, it did find that those who described themselves as having a strong faith in a higher power were twice as likely to respond to treatment.
In this study, 159 participants were asked to rate their belief in God and their expectations for the effectiveness of treatment on a five-point scale. The participants were already patients at the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital program in Belmont, Massachusetts, and were receiving treatment for various mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. Believers were more likely to expect therapeutic benefits, and those who had more than a "slight" belief in God were more than twice as likely to respond to treatment.
The study results, however, can't necessarily prove any cause or effect; the researchers aren’t sure whether spirituality caused the treatment boost, some other factor played a role or if spiritual people, perhaps, are somehow healthier than others.
More research is needed on the subject, but the study gives weight to the belief that external forces—religious beliefs, family and friends or nature—can help people respond more positively to treatments for mental illnesses.