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August 2016

Being strongly religious could significantly improve your physical and mental health and well-being, a study from think-tank Theos has claimed.

The research, which analysed 139 separate studies published over the past three decades, confirmed the correlation between religious belief and practice and different elements of physical and mental wellbeing.

The report, Religion and health: assessing the evidence, said: ‘Religious belief was found to have a largely positive, but more varied, impact on the different measures of well-being.

‘Subjective well-being evidenced a strong positive correlation with religious belief, with 18 of the 19 studies on subjective well-being supporting the notion that belief has a positive effect on subjective well-being’.

It also indicated that holding strong religious belief — evidenced through community participation and personal practice — also has a strong effect on one’s overall happiness and personal satisfaction.

According to Nick Spencer, one of the authors of the report, the findings will open up new areas of research and inquiry for those working in professions studying and working on mental health related issues, as well as physical and public health professionals.

Mr Spencer said, ‘The evidence linking religion and well-being, and especially religious participation and well-being, is now overwhelming. It is time we thought carefully and creatively about how we can harness this powerful resource to improve well-being and mental health, rather than running scared from the very idea of religion’.

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