By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
28 November 2011
Faith and Mental Health
This is not a politically correct article. Faith has been beaten up by the liberal left as they would like to prohibit belief in the Creator God to justify their agenda.
Regular attendance at religious services is associated with a more optimistic outlook and a lesser inclination to be depressed, compared to those who do not attend services at all, a recent study concluded according to Reuters.
“The study’s findings supports previous research that religious participation can promote psychological and physical health — and reduce mortality risks — possibly by calming people in stressful times, creating meaningful social interactions and helping curtail bad habits.
Those who said they attended services more than once a week in the previous month were 56 percent more likely to be above the median score in a measure of optimism than those who did not attend services, according to the study published in the Journal of Religion and Health.
And those who reported attending services weekly were 22 percent less likely to be depressed or have depressive symptoms compared to non-attenders.”
Many a church Minster will tell you that Christmas and Easter are when their churches overflow with people they don’t usually see during the rest of the year.
“There is a correlation, but that does not mean there is causality,” said Eliezer Schnall, an associate professor of clinical psychology at Yeshiva University in New York. “One could argue people who are more optimistic may be drawn to religious services.
“The person who says, ‘I guess if I go to services, that will make me more optimistic’ — while a possibility, that may not be true,” he said.
Another caveat Schnall offered was that the study examined older women, so the benefits of religious activity may not apply to younger people or to males. Older women in particular have been shown in past research to engage in more social interaction at services, and to gain the most from it.
Schnall worked on a 2008 study of the same group of women that found those who attended religious services regularly reduced their risk of death by 20 percent over the follow-up period that averaged nearly eight years.
“We’re trying to connect the dots here,” he said. “We know they’re less likely to die, and health outcomes can be related to psychological factors.”
It has been know for many years that those who are filled with hope live healthier, longer lives as they deal with stress of life in a more positive way.
The religion that espouses faith, hope, love, forgiveness, and atonement for sin is a good foundation in the good times and in the bad times. Our country’s founding fathers lived in a rugged world of uncertainty. The speed of communication depended upon how many people you could gather at once, how fast you could run, or how fast your horse could get you there.
They had a brand new country that just fought and won a bloody revolution against a superior foe. A uniform monetary system needed to be established along with a system of self governance.
There were no grocery stores. Either you raised your own food or you bartered with someone to provide you with food. There were no food stamps either.
The medical condition of a mental illness was not handled in the way it is dealt with today. Often times those with medical condition of a mental illness were thought to be demon possessed, some where thought to be witches and burned.
With all the uncertainty of building a country in new land you could think that depression and other forms of a medical condition of a mental illness would collapse the American experiment. During this period of our new country it was more than church attendance, it was participation in the church and by the church that helped this country rapidly grow into a strong nation. It was the church and church leaders that inspired hope that saw us through and gave us strength to carry us through tough times.
History confirms what Rueters says: “The study found people who attend services regularly were 28 percent more likely to report having positive social support… compared to other social groupings such as sporting events or playing cards, fellow religious congregants can provide closer confidants, Schnall said”
No matter what the season, no matter the circumstances, no matter how bad off you think you are, there is someone worse off than you and we all need a trusted support system. Your support system in any season should provide and believe in faith, hope, love, forgiveness, as well as a good listening ear. For your support system to work you must be participating in the system at least as much as the rest of the group.
Faith brings hope. Hope looks to a bright future. Hope is a key ingredient to preventing, coping with, and healing of many medical conditions including a mental illness.
Rev. Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (MA and AZ) and Founder of the Family Renewal Center. http://www.narrowpathministries.org and http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org