Spirituality and Mental Health: Current Understanding and Future Trends

Kirby K. Reutter, Silvia M. Bigatti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Over the past seven decades, a growing body of evidence suggests a modest yet consistent and statistically significant association between spirituality and mental health. This relationship is important given that a great majority of Americans report high levels of spirituality. In this chapter, we will review the current evidence of the association between these constructs (including but not limited to our own work). However, the bulk of this research has often confused spirituality with religiosity, or focused on the traditional construct of religion rather than the emergent construct of spirituality. In addition, the majority of these studies have been exclusively correlational in nature, without exploring the mediating or moderating effects of spirituality on mental health. These lapses are both theoretically and clinically problematic for a variety of reasons. In this chapter we will summarize a more recent body of research that has started to explore spirituality in more complex designs (e.g., moderated mediation). We will make recommendations for future research that will help the field mature and develop a fuller understanding of the role of spirituality in mental health, and discuss the challenges and opportunities for using spirituality as a resource in mental health care. Finally, there is growing evidence that younger generations have different attitudes towards religiosity; these changes have implications for spirituality. We will explore this trend and what it means for the mental health of future generations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpirituality
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Practices, Societal Attitudes and Effects on Health
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781634823876
ISBN (Print)9781634823708
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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    Reutter, K. K., & Bigatti, S. M. (2015). Spirituality and Mental Health: Current Understanding and Future Trends. In Spirituality: Global Practices, Societal Attitudes and Effects on Health (pp. 1-19). Nova Science Publishers, Inc..