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Religion in inpatient mental health: a narrative review

Suzanne Heffernan (Clinical Psychologist, based at Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Sandra Neil (Clinical Psychologist, based at Cromwell House Community Mental Health Team, Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK)
Stephen Weatherhead (Clinical Tutor/Clinical Psychologist, based at Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 2 December 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which inpatient mental health services attend to the religious needs of service-users. Literature is presented to argue that whilst the importance of religion is highlighted in consumer accounts, research and policy; inpatient services continue to neglect religion and service-users consistently report insufficient attention to religious needs during hospitalisation.


This review adopts a narrative approach to the literature, drawing upon published journal articles, book chapters and policy documentation.


Literature into the topic area is reviewed and discussed within three themes. First, the extent to which religious needs are currently met is explored. Second, potential reasons for neglect of religion are considered. Finally, examples of religiously informed group programmes, individual psychotherapy and the use of traditional healers are detailed.

Practical implications

Findings of the review point towards the requirement for inpatient services to more adequately meet religious needs in terms of available facilities. The need for spiritual assessment and collaboration with hospital chaplains is also highlighted, along with the call for increased staff training.


It is expected that this review will be of interest to a range of stakeholders including professionals, policy makers and service users. It highlights the void in clinical attention to religious needs and offers practical suggestions for meeting this need.



Heffernan, S., Neil, S. and Weatherhead, S. (2014), "Religion in inpatient mental health: a narrative review", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 221-236.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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