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Keywords:

  • mental health care;
  • nursing;
  • spirituality;
  • values

The spiritual dimension of care is frequently alluded to in the nursing literature, but rarely examined in terms of what it means in practice or how it might be taught to students entering the profession. Some of those most in need of spiritual care are people suffering from mental illness or psychological distress. The aim of this paper is to explore the different meanings of spirituality and to suggest ways in which the spiritual care of clients can be implemented. It further recommends which aspects of spirituality could usefully be included in nursing curricula. The paper concludes by alerting nurses to the causes and manifestations of spiritual apathy in contemporary health care and calls for a rhetoric that will counter the jargon of cost analysis which currently prevails in the health services.