Survey: Mental Health and Spiritual and/or Religious Belief

As yesterday was Winter Solstice where I am and as it’s almost a new calendar year, I’m launching a new project. I am not 100% sure what the end result of the project will be, but I do know that I need as many experiences and as much input from other people as I can gather if I want this to be successful. This is where you come in!

Behind the cut is a rather lengthy survey on the topic of mental health and spirituality and/or religion. It asks a lot of personal questions and requests a lot of detail on things that many people consider private or not to be discussed with a random internet stranger, if they are discussed at all. I know that these are often sensitive topics and can be painful to talk about and, if you choose to fill out part or all of the survey, know that I deeply appreciate you being willing to share these things with me and that I honor what trust you may be placing in me, a mostly nameless and faceless person typing away on their end of the internet.

Things you should know:

  • This survey is not academic in nature, meaning I have no academic authority behind me—no IRB approval and no advisor watching over me. This is purely a personal spiritual pursuit of mine and any responses will not be used or framed in an academic manner or environment.
  • While I am not sure what the outcome of this will be, I am fairly certain that part of the result will be some public reporting of what I receive, which may or may not result in some kind of quoting of your response in a larger piece of writing.
  • I am the only person who will see your raw, complete responses unless you choose to share your raw, complete responses of your own accord. The email address associated with this project is only accessible to me and any responses will not be saved or stored in a way that is accessible to anyone else.
  • Though this survey was written by a polytheist, I am open to responses from anyone on the spectrum of spiritual belief, regardless if you are monotheist, deist, henotheist, or whatever label fits your beliefs.
  • This survey is shareable to the extreme—I would love it if you posted this on your own blog(s), on appropriate message boards or community sites, shared it with your spiritual and/or religious peers, and otherwise spread the word. I am looking to cast as wide a net as possible and gather as much input as people are willing to offer.
  • I will likely post my own responses to the survey questions, but it is worth noting that I am coming to this project as someone who identifies as mentally ill and not as an outsider with no personal experience of mental health or mental health issues.

The Instructions

  • The [very short] demographic information at the beginning is solely to give me a way to categorize your response. Please use whatever name you feel comfortable using, be it a craft, spiritual, or magical name, an epithet that has meaning for you, a screenname or other name you are known by online, the name that people call you most often, or a name that you make up right on the spot. You can also choose to remain anonymous, but, if I choose to quote your response in writing, I will likely create a pseudonym for you. I promise not to make them horrible or insulting, but it will be something of my creation.
  • Please feel free to answer every question or to pick and choose what questions or parts of questions you would like to respond to. I like detail, as detail helps explain things, but feel free to be as vague or as specific as you like or feel comfortable with.
  • Please be candid. I am under no illusions that everyone’s experience with mental health stuff and spirituality and/or religion is cheerful and made of sunflowers and unicorns. If something has gone sideways or turned out poorly, please share that. If your coping skills are not considered socially acceptable [examples of this might be substance use/abuse or self harm], I want to hear about that. I want your real experiences, as much as you are willing and able to share them. I personally don’t assign ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to other people’s experiences and methods of getting through stuff, so please don’t think you’re going to get a bucket of guilt or ‘ew, you do WHAT when you’re <feeling>?’.
  • Some of the questions are repetitive, but I promise that’s on purpose.
  • I am mainly collecting responses via email to assure your privacy. The project email is spookymentalhealth@gmail.com. As I said above, this email is only accessible by me. If you’d like to use an anonymous emailer, HushMail and HideMyAss will allow you to create an anonymous email and GuerillaMail will give you a one-time-use temporary email address to send in your response. If you are willing to receive any follow-up or clarification questions, please either contact me from an email address that can receive email or provide me a way to contact you.
  • If you would like to post your results publicly and get them to me that way, I’ll be tracking the tag ‘#spookymentalhealth’ on Tumblr and will be tracking pingbacks here on WordPress.

Without further ado..

Name:

Age:

Gender:

Is there anything you would like to share about your mental health history, including any diagnoses that you have had in the past or have currently?

Have you ever participated in any conventional treatment for mental health issues you have or have had? Conventional treatment may include talk therapy, psychoanalysis, group therapy, outpatient or day programs, inpatient treatment, therapeutic/group/community homes, or medication prescribed by a medical or mental health professional.

If you have participated in conventional treatment, do you feel it helped alleviate your symptoms? Did it improve the quality of your life? If yes, how? If it did not, what do you feel was lacking, misplaced, or otherwise unhelpful?

Does or did your treatment help or harm your spiritual and/or religious practices, if you had them at the time? How?

Are you or were you able to be open about your spiritual and/or religious practices with your mental health providers? Do you feel that this helped or hurt your treatment?

Have you ever participated in any non-conventional treatment for mental health issues you have or have had? Non-conventional treatment is sometimes referred to as alternative, elective, homeopathic, New Age, experimental, complementary, or unproven. Some examples might be pastoral counseling, self-help groups, animal-assisted therapy, acupuncture, use of herbs and herbal extracts, and hypnosis.

If you have participated in non-conventional treatment, do you feel it helped alleviate your symptoms? Did it improve the quality of your life? If yes, how? If it did not, what do you feel was lacking, misplaced, or otherwise unhelpful?

Does or did your non-conventional treatment help or harm your spiritual and/or religious practices, if you had them at the time? How?

If you have ever had a mental health crisis [whatever that may look like for you], what did you do to manage it, get through it, or otherwise mitigate the effects it had on your life, if you were able to?

Is there anything you would like to tell me about your spiritual and/or religious practice, including if you work with any Deities or Divine figures, if you are a part of a specific group or community [be as vague or specific as you like], what your spiritual and/or religious practices look like [examples: prayer, going to circle/church/practice group/group ritual, holding solitary ritual, shamanic practices, writing, etc..], and any labels you might use to describe your personal practices [examples might be pagan, polytheist, reconstructionist, witch, priest/priestess, or lay person]?

Do you feel that your mental health affects or has affected your spiritual and/or religious practice or experiences? If yes, how? If not, why do you think that is?

Do you feel that your mental health affects or has affected your relationship(s) with your Deities or Divine figures? If so, has this been a positive or negative experience for you?

Have your Deities or Divine figures ever offered any input, help, assistance, or otherwise had anything to do with your mental health? If so, did you find it helpful or harmful and how/why?

How do you discern between possible symptoms or effects of your mental health and interactions with or communication to/from your Deities or Divine figures?

Have you seen or heard about prevailing attitudes towards folks who have mental health issues and who are also spiritual or religious in your spiritual and/or religious community or in other spiritual and/or religious communities? If so, do you find these helpful or harmful? Why?

If you consider yourself to carry spiritual gifts, how has your mental health affected your use of your skills or talents, if at all? Examples of spiritual gifts might be clairvoyance, the ability to travel astrally or do journeywork, ‘dreaming true’, or communication with Deities or Divine figures,

If you have taken medication or supplements to support your mental health, have they affected your spiritual and/or religious practice or spiritual gifts at all? If yes, how?

If you are having a period of time where you are symptomatic or more symptomatic than what your baseline day-to-day existence is, how do you balance your mental health and your spiritual and/or religious practice? Is there anything that you specifically do [or do not do] during these times?

If you have had a spiritual crisis, was it affected by or caused by your mental health? If so, what did you do to manage it, get through it, or otherwise mitigate the effects it had on your life, if you were able to?

Are there specific spiritual and/or religious practices that you engage in that have been informed by your past or present mental health? If so, could you tell me about them? How did they come about? How are they informed by your mental health?

Are there specific coping skills that you use or would recommend for someone who is struggling with mental health stuff and also has or wants to have a spiritual and/or religious practice? Some examples of coping skills might be meditation, prayer, intoxication, physical exercise, self harm, and using temperature to alter physical feelings.

Are there resources that you have found helpful and would recommend for someone who is struggling with mental stuff and also has or wants to have a spiritual and/or religious practice? Some examples of resources might be specific books, blogs, events, or people.

Are there any words of hope or encouragement that you could offer someone who is struggling?

Is there anything that I have forgotten to ask that seems important or that you would like to add?
If you are open to possible follow-up questions, is there an email address that I could reach you at?

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~ by Alex on December 22, 2013.

One Response to “Survey: Mental Health and Spiritual and/or Religious Belief”

  1. Reblogged this on Grim's Wolf and commented:
    I’ve a feeling this will be of interest to at least one person reading my blog, if not more, so here it be.

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