SNF Nostos


Panel, Parallel sessions

Religion, culture, and mental health

Friday June 23, 17:10, Lobby NLG


In this panel discussion, the neglect—or not—of mental health by religion was debated. The discussion questioned the validating authority of evidence-based understanding, often centered around Western institutions such as Yale, Oxford, and Harvard. This mindset perpetuates a colonial attitude, dismissing non-Western knowledge as superstition. The rise of secularism was also examined as a religion in its own right, a religion which contributes to a more individualistic and less community-oriented society, which in turn exacerbates mental health issues. The panel pondered what scientists could learn from religion, which historically provided refuge and allowed individuals to express their fears and get their worries out of their system. For example, historical descriptions of trauma-related flashbacks, a core symptom of post-traumatic stress, were found in the ancient Indian Ramayana, which dates from 3,000 BCE. The panel concluded with an emphasis on the need for both sides to be more accepting of opposing views and learn to agree to disagree.

Moderated by Mike Niconchuk