Mental Health and Religion
In the world, there are roughly 6.2 billion people who practice religion. Rough estimates put them in different traditions. The sizes are only estimates, but they are very close. The list of religions is fairly sociological. The fastest-growing religion is Islam, which is predicted to have the most adherents by 2020. This article aims to provide some insight into how Religion influences our mental health and promotes a sense of community. Moreover, it can foster a conscience of human dignity.
Religion influences mental health
There is a strong body of empirical evidence demonstrating an association between religious belief and better mental health, especially among minority adults. These findings lend support to the theoretical literature that has proposed that diverse aspects of religion influence mental health. These theories emphasize the importance of religious resources for coping with stress, and the power of ritual and religion. Theoretical works have also identified several potential pitfalls of religion, including its negative impact on social relationships.
While positive religious aspects have been linked to improved mental health, studies have shown that some religious practices may actually contribute to poorer mental health. This is due to the concept of resource mobilization, which proposes that individuals marshal coping resources in stressful situations. For example, when experiencing a crisis, a person may turn to religious rituals such as prayer and worship, or pray more frequently than they usually would. Positive religious aspects have not been associated with reduced mental health, but rather with increased resource mobilization.
It helps create a sense of community
The existence of religion is not a coincidence. It has a powerful impact on human behaviour and is a fundamentally useful tool in structuring society. Religions serve three important purposes for communities. They provide spiritual, social, psychological, and material support and help people understand their roles in a society. Furthermore, they help people focus their energies and form a sense of community. Hence, religion plays a vital role in building strong communities.
Despite its importance for society, it also serves as a source of material resources for the less privileged. It is often the voice of under-represented groups in society. Religious people volunteer at higher rates than the general population. And most of them perform their voluntary work through religious organizations. Thus, religion provides an organizational framework for volunteering and community interaction. According to Richard Flory, Associate Research Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California and Senior Research Associate at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC, religion contributes to a community’s sense of belonging and unity.
It can create a mental environment burdened by worry and anxiety
A recent study examined the relationship between religion and psychological wellbeing, examining how the presence of a faith community could protect against depression and anxiety. Researchers from Iran found that religion provided protection against anxiety and depression, reducing the risk of suicide and other psychological ills. Another study from the United Kingdom found that religious participation was associated with a decreased level of worry and anxiety. The findings are not surprising, considering the prevalence of depression and anxiety amongst the general population.
Several studies have linked religion with lower levels of anxiety and depression in healthy individuals and patients of various disorders. The results of these studies were consistent across religious traditions, cultures, and diseases. Although most studies were conducted in first-world, historically Christian countries, religious practices may have additional benefits for individuals suffering from anxiety and depression. But it is unclear if religious practices can truly prevent anxiety in patients.
It can promote a conscience of human rights and dignity
In the world we live in today, religion is a deeply personal aspect of our lives, and is embedded in most of our bills of rights. Our deepest beliefs govern our sense of self, our relationship with other human beings, and our behavior. According to Martha Nussbaum, liberty of conscience refers to the search for ultimate meaning in life. Faiths and values can promote a conscience of human rights and dignity.
However, religion and culture can also affect each other. They can impact each other positively or negatively, depending on the context. Fortunately, we can benefit from the positive interactions between religion and culture. It will help us to better understand the principles and practices of FoRB and its application in our world. We should recognize that the two are closely related. Let us look at some of the ways in which religion and culture influence one another.