For those of you who are Christian, I hope you have had a wonderful Easter Sunday. For those of you who are not, I still hope you’ve had a wonderful Sunday.
In light of today being Easter, I’m sharing a some reading about spirituality and mental health. Whether your family practices a particular religion or not, I hope you will find this article thought-provoking.
This article from the Christianity Today blog reports on a study showing that people who are spiritual but not religious can suffer from more mental health problems. The main point made at the end of the article shows why this difference matters.
One key reason is that attending church gives people an opportunity to share their spirituality within the context of a social network. Two other reasons are cited, but let me expand a bit on the importance ofa social network.
The example that strikes me the most is about pregnancy and mental health Whether a mom experiences mild postpartum depression, anxiety during pregnancy, or postpartum OCD, one of the most effective interventions is to boost social support. It helps even more to add as many pregnant or postpartum moms as possible to the distressed mom’s support network.
Why does this help? The mom learns how to trust others around her when she needs practical help, emotional support, or some advice. This support network also helps the mom to normalize her concerns instead of feeling isolated and incompetent.
A religious support network can provide similar benefits when people face stressful life events. A person in need is less likely to feel isolated and helpless when they have form close connections with people they see on a regular basis.
Most likely, this article was done with only adults. But I would guess this impact is similar for children and teens. Religious education activities (Sunday School, confirmation, etc) can create opportunities for personal conversation and closer relationships between kids.
I know that one of my good friends from school was an even closer friend as a result of our time in church activities over the years. Our families were connected beyond just casual social encounters in our community or the school hallways.
Be sure to read the summary article to learn more about the results of the study and make your own conclusions. Please comment on any thoughts you have about this study or this topic, regardless of your religious status.