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Mental Health and Religion

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Mental Health and Religion

* Abstract

The aim of this investigation was to study the relationship between good mental health and religion. To study a group of participants I designed a questionnaire, which used a likert scale, and the data collected was analysed using a program on SPSS.

The data collected had a significant negative correlation, so the results were similar to those from other studies examining religion and its relationship with mental health. In general the individuals who considered themselves religious had a more optimistic view on life.

* Introduction.

The aim of this investigation is to explore whether there is a significant relationship between religion and an individuals general mental health. There has been evidence to support both sides of the argument.

Some studies have found that individuals may use religion as an 'emotional crutch' during times of emotional distress. Individuals studies that often suffered from depression found praying less helpful than those who rarely felt depressed. This seems to suggest that active most probably turn to prayer to help them, and it is said that people who pray frequently are apparently less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to some studies.

There have been a number of studies, old and new which focus on the relationship between mental health and religion - with conflicting results.

A study by psychologists from Sheffield University aimed to distinguish what aspects of religious are particularly likely to influence an individuals mental well-being. They found that personal prayer was much more likely to have a positive effect than going to church for social reasons, this was attributed to the individual gaining mental reassurance from the prayer itself. They studied 474 men and women aged between 18 and 29, and measured 1) Their reasons for having a religious belief (E.g., parental influence, particular event in life etc.) 2) The frequency with which they attended church and 3) Their tendency to depression. The study found that Women were more likely to be religious than men; this is also evident in many other studies on the religious beliefs of men and women. However the frequency with The sample (474) however is not a substantial one, and the findings may not be as accurate as they could be. Had the sample been larger they would have been able to establish whether their findings were significant or not.

Their findings suggest that the relationship between mental health and religion is linked to the way people use prayer to deal with stressful situations. For Example an individual may find some comfort in praying for a sick loved one rather than doing 'nothing', the sheer act of prayer allows the individual to feel that they have physically done something to help.

Another study, of 101 undergraduate students between ages 18 and 49. Each completed a survey in which their attitudes toward Christianity, whether they felt a purpose in life, and if with my life in general' etc. Those scoring high in religious beliefs: who attended church regularly, had strong religious faith, and prayed often - also scored high in happiness and feeling of self worth.

This all correlates with the majority of other studies, which all reflect that on average, religious people tend to be happier because they have a greater sense of purpose in life.

In this be religious will generally have a happier mental state.

* Methodology.

The data needed will be collected using a questionnaire. (App.1) The individual will first be asked their sex and religious preference (Religious, undecided and Atheist).

The questionnaire is based on 10 statements, (For example 'God exists') and for each the individual must pick a number, which best suits their agreement of the statement (For example 1=strongly agree 2=agree, etc). a whole').

It would have been beneficial to do a pilot questionnaire, and pick out questions, which had a high discriminant power after analysis, as this would have insured the questions used would collect the required information. This was not possible however as the data for the study had to be collected within a short time. based on the reliability of a test relative to other tests with same number of items, and measuring the same construct of interest (Hatcher, 1994).

In total 56 participants were used, 28 Male and 28 Female. The individuals were selected randomly and the individuals who chose that their religious preference is 'undecided' will be disregarded, as the study is focusing on looking at the differences between religious and non-religious individuals.

Each participant was asked to sign a consent form (App.2) and was fully briefed before the study as to what information I was collecting. The participants, who specified also received an email explaining the findings of the study. The were reminded that they had anonymity throughout the study.

As this study is interested in the religious preference of an individual there had to be some ethical considerations- if a participant was not happy with disclosing their preference they did not have any obligations to continue with the questionnaire.

* Results.

Results for religious preference 1 (Religious)

There is no such thing as God. -.470**

A person's spirit lives on after death. -.458**

Heaven exists. -.520**

There is no such thing as Hell. -.288*

Praying helps when I am worried about something. -.157

I have many personal worries. -.320**

I am content with my life on a whole. .018

I feel I achieve most of the goals I set myself. -.181

I am happy with my current romantic situation. -.280*

I have an unhappy life. -.288*

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1-tailed).

*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (1-tailed).




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