Information is limited concerning the role of religious and spiritual advisors in providing help to people with mental illnesses in Singapore. This study examined that role, as well as the satisfaction with and the perceived effectiveness of the services provided, among people with mental health problems.
Data were collected as part of a nationally representative household survey of residents 18 years and older in Singapore. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview, version 3.0, was used to diagnose mental illness as well as to collect information about the mental health services respondents had sought.
A total of 6,616 respondents completed the survey; in the overall sample, 1.5% reported seeking help from religious or spiritual advisors. This rate increased to 6.6% among those with at least one mental illness, with the prevalence being higher among respondents with lifetime dysthymia, generalized anxiety disorder, or bipolar disorder. Sociodemographic correlates associated with a lower likelihood of consultation with a religious or spiritual advisor included reporting “other” race-ethnicity as well as faith in Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam. Most respondents who sought help from a religious or spiritual advisor in the last 12 months were satisfied with the help they received, and about half reported it to be very useful.
Religious and spiritual advisors are an important source of help for people with mental illness, and a majority of respondents with a mental illness were satisfied with the support they received from these sources.