It can be hard to access on-going mental health care — so maybe we need to “think different” about this issue?

“This year, in talking to patients, we really learned that a lot of people have a quick first appointment but then have to wait months for their second and subsequent appointments and that really undermines their ability to get better,” [State Sen. Scott] Wiener said. “It’s been a real focus to make sure that people who actually have insurance can get mental health treatment.”

Spiritual care is not mental health care, but it is complementary and makes more support available. For those who are open to spiritual support–think compassionate listening and skilled counseling, rather than empty platitudes–it may be helpful.

I am threading the needle carefully here, and suggesting that with the reported long delays in getting mental health care, perhaps spiritual care providers can be helpful in supporting mental health patients and clients on their path to healing. To be absolutely clear: when people need care for a mental health condition, spiritual care is not a substitute for them getting that mental health treatment, but it can help to address the suffering associated with mental health issues: loneliness, alienation, loss and grief, for example.

There is an important difference between mental health care and spiritual care, and we should not mistake one for the other. Recognizing that, can we work together to help patients?


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