Harvard Study Shows Faith Improves Mental Health Outcomes

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I brought this story up in 2018 and I feel it's a good time to bring it around again. There is a common thread that runs through well-intended people across the ideological spectrum today. Mental health issues are a top concern. Brought into focus through numerous mass shootings in recent years, across every age group, gender, ethnic background, and ideological tendency, we’re concerned about identifying, treating, and restricting access to weapons. Clearly, the best of all solutions would be to reduced mental illness in our society generally.

For more than 20 years, I’ve voiced a belief that plays directly into this story. The further removed God is from our society, the worse the outcomes are, and regardless of one’s religious views, society benefits from the tenants of faith. Harvard completed a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology demonstrating powerful results. Children raised with religious activity have better physical and mental health as they age. A few highlights include that by the age of 20, those raised with religious practices average being 18% happier, 30% more likely to help others, and 33% less likely to engage in substance abuse.

What’s more, is that those who fared best were those who prayed daily. In other words, having faith in one’s life in any capacity provided benefit, the more involved with one’s faith one was, the greater the benefit. This isn’t to say that if all children were raised in religious upbringings, we’d end all mental health issues but it’s evident it would have the potential to be an enormous catalyst.

Again, against the backdrop of the pandemic, where are the concerns from public officials regarding the mental health considerations of people of all ages? What’s more is many public officials have limited the ability to access faith, have openly discouraged attending services and now they’re promoting isolation during the holidays. What are the odds more people are suffering from the effects of mental health issues due to their policies than from the virus? Again, it’s important that we remain smart and safe this holiday season. Data also suggests it’s important we connect with our faith and family as well. Yes, data, as in science. Faith and facts.

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