If faith becomes a source of peace for the person with an SMI, then it is all right and can be very therapeutic. There are priests that are trained to work with people who are experiencing serious emotional problems. They can soothe that person when no one else can.
It means that the doctors have to be sensitive to the needs of their people so they don’t create more problems for the person afflicted. Individual faith traditions should be respected.
I am wading in turbulent waters here because there are many in my community that will disagree with what I am saying. I have seen a man struggle against the ministrations on his death bed because he was not Catholic. He just saw the collar and started to writhe in agony. What should have been a moment of peace was not.
Everyone is in a different place in their journey of faith. There are people from all walks of life with SMI’s and each one believes in a different way. I cannot pray the Rosary with a Lutheran unless she wants to. I can’t make it part of her treatment plan. I can’t even make praying the Rosary part of a Catholic’s treatment plan because Jesus Christ never forced anyone to follow Him. He wants people to accept His love and follow, but He doesn’t force anyone.
I am grateful that in most hospitals there are chapels for people to pray and gather. Sometimes, people just use them for a quiet place to wait the results of a test or the family member’s recuperation. Those chapels are great.
Some people have a symptom called religiosity. That is not real religion. It is painful for the person and does not lead to peace for anyone. Sometimes people with SMI who have this symptom will believe that there are evil forces in their lives. They won’t be able to sleep or eat. It’s horrible.
Religiosity is not fanaticism. It’s destructive and isolating. This symptom takes aspects of one’s faith that should be a source of peace and strength and turns it into poison. It is characterized by an excessive obsession with religion and God that others in the faith tradition would call extreme or dangerous.
I love my faith and my God, but my mind can wander. I investigate other faith traditions and have friends whom I admire and care for deeply who are not of the same faith. I don’t have a degree in Comparative Theology or anything, but I do think that stuff rocks. It’s nice to see people who believe in something bigger than themselves. It’s a sign of humility.