Church community: Encouragement, fellowship and spiritual impartation
From practical observation, involvement in a church community can positively affect one’s mental health and be a preventative factor in drug abuse. Within the construct of the church community there is encouragement, fellowship, and spiritual impartation. So then, does a reduction in church involvement affect positive mental health? Obviously, there are many factors to consider when pondering this question; however, recent findings provide scientific support for the idea. According to a recent study published in the January issue of Social Psychiatry and Epidemiology, women are three times more likely to suffer alcohol abuse or generalized anxiety if they have ceased being religiously active than those that have always been active. According to Joanna Maselko, Sc.D., of Temple University, “Women are simply more integrated into the social networks of their religious communities. When they stop attending religious services, they lose access to that network and all its potential benefits.” The study focused on 718 adults, a majority of which had changed their level of religious involvement between childhood and adulthood. The following is an excerpt of an article from Science Daily.com that reviews the study:
For many, religious activity changes between childhood and adulthood, and a new study finds this could affect one’s mental health. According to Temple University’s Joanna Maselko, Sc.D., women who had stopped being religiously active were more than three times more likely to have suffered generalized anxiety and alcohol abuse/dependence than women who reported always having been active.
“One’s lifetime pattern of religious service attendance can be related to psychiatric illness,” said Maselko, an assistant professor of public health and co-author of the study, which appears in the January issue of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. Conversely, men who stopped being religiously active were less likely to suffer major depression when compared to men who had always been religiously active.
Maselko offers one possible explanation for the gender differences in the relationship between religious activity and mental health.