Psychiatrist: spiritual belief helps mental illness

People suffering with mental health disorders who have a faith in a higher power’ have a better chance of managing their illnesses and improving their health.

They even live longer, Dr Andrew Powell, a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told a multi-faith meeting of mental health professionals, carers and patients in Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, on Thursday last week.

Dr Powell, who edits the College’s newsletter, told the meeting of more than 40 guests from all over the borough of Barnet, that scientific studies carried out by the medical profession in Britain and America in recent years prove that a belief in a higher power or higher consciousness is as valuable in the pursuit of sound mental health as traditional medication and therapy.

Dr Powell, a retired NHS psychologist, said it was unthinkable a few years ago for medical professionals in the fields of psychiatry and psychology to consider the value of spirituality in their ongoing search for better ways of treating mental health patients.

“But the time has arrived when many in my profession now believe a belief or faith in a higher consciousness is as important, if not more important, than conventional medicine,” he said. “Quantum physics has provided an important platform for such a belief in recent years. There are many in my profession who now believe that medical science is the pursuit of helping the patient from the bottom up while a belief or faith in a higher consciousness is helping the patient from the top down.”

Dr Powell, who was brought up in the Christian tradition’, and has published medical papers in which he admits experimenting with LSD and mescaline with his professor’s approval while studying medicine and psychiatry, was careful to make a distinction between religion and spirituality when describing what he meant by a faith in a higher power.

“I see the world’s religions as rivers, all flowing into the same sea,” he said.

During a question-and-answer session, which followed Dr Powell’s talk, a member of the audience drew a round of applause when he described how he had witnessed what the doctor had described, first hand, after attending addicts’ meetings He said: “People who have repeatedly failed to stop drinking or taking drugs for many years, miraculously stop when they find a higher power through Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.”

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