Harvard Study Shows How Faith Improves Mental Health Outcomes

Hands Praying in Church With Rosary

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The CDC’s recent study found a 51% year-over-year increase in attempted suicides for girls between the ages of 12-17. The study continues to gain attention in news media, however, I’ve yet to hear anyone discuss real solutions to fit the epidemic.

In 2018, Harvard produced the most compelling study to date on the factors that relate to youth depression, violence, substance abuse, and suicide. The study entitled: Religious upbringing linked to better health and well-being during early adulthood was never broadly covered by news media or for that matter even widely publicized by Harvard. That remains unfortunate but the information is as relevant as ever.

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 reduce mental illness in our society.

For I've said that 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, even atheists. Harvard’s study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, demonstrated powerful results.

The headline, Children raised with religious activity have better physical and mental health as they age. The study showed that by 20 years old 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 is, 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.

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