Health Through Faith and Community A Study Resource © 1998 Ed Canda Health Through Faith and Community Session 3 Faith and Mental Health © 2001 Aaron Ketchell Health Through Faith and Community Overhead 3.1 – Connection Between Religious Participation & Mental Health
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© 1998 Ed Canda
Faith and Mental Health
© 2001 Aaron Ketchell
2001 book examined 100 studies that analyzed relationship between religiousness and mental well-being.
79 percent reported at least one positive correlation between religious involvement and greater happiness, satisfaction, etc.
Religious commitment and participation have been shown to be associated with:
Less likelihood of depression
Less likelihood of suicide
Decreased severity of psychological distress
Less likelihood of alcohol or illicit drug use
Reduced juvenile delinquency
Increased marital satisfaction
Increased sense of optimism and hope
A 1991 study conducted in New Haven, Connecticut, randomly sampled 720 adults to examine how religious association and attendance affected levels of psychological distress. Researchers concluded that persons who attend religious service regularly reported lower levels of psychological distress than those attending infrequently or not at all:
“Our findings indicate that religion may be a potent coping strategy that facilitates adjustment to the stress of life”
(Williams, Larson, Buckler, Heckmann & Pyle, 1991, pp. 1257-1262)
Question: In your experience, how might prayer or attending a religious service lower levels of psychological distress?
In a study of the effects of depression on hospitalized patients published in 1998, researchers at Duke University found that the more religious a patient was, the more quickly he or she recovered from depression. The researchers examined eighty-seven patients aged sixty or older who were diagnosed with a depressive disorder. They found that as the level of religious intensity increased, so did the speed of recovery from illness. David B. Larson, MD, of the National Institute for Healthcare Research, observed:
“This study indicated that we physicians should encourage our patients to draw on their religious beliefs to work through such a crisis.”
(Koenig, George & Peterson, 1998, pp. 536-542)
Question: In your experience, how has your faith been particularly useful for cultivating positive mental health?
A study conducted at the University of New Mexico found that the risk for alcohol dependency is 60 percent higher among drinkers with no religious affiliation. According to the author of the study, Dr. William R. Miller:
“The abuse of alcohol, which interestingly came to be called ‘spirits,’ is in some manner incompatible with spirituality.”
(Miller, 1998, pp. 979-990)
Question: In your experience, how can religious values, faith, and spirituality help prevent abuse of alcohol and harmful drugs?
Vertical length of cross – human-divine relationship
Horizontal width of the cross – human-human relationships
Necessary to stress both parts for treatment of and recovery from addiction and mental illness
© 1997 Canda
Churches and congregations must stress the common human condition, rather than difference between those with addictions or mental illness and others, if hope and health are to be encouraged
© 1997 Canda
Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr may have written the Serenity Prayer in 1932.
It came to the attention of an Alcoholics Anonymous member and brought to Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, in 1939. The prayer was adopted as part of the movement
Other theories claim that Niebuhr himself shared the prayer with Wilson. Regardless of its origin, the Serenity Prayer is the most well-known example of prayer meant to facilitate mental health
The Serenity Prayer
God, Give us grace
To accept with Serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your Will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next.