Study finds benefits to churchgoing

24 March 2017

iSTOCK

WEEKLY church attendance coun­ters some of the damage caused to people’s mental health by unem­ployment, an international study that has looked at the impact of un­­employment on well-being suggests.

This effect was not felt by those who joined in other com­munity or social groups, but by only those who reported regular religious attend­ance.

The research, conducted by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing (WWCW), in partnership with the universities of East Anglia, Reading, Essex, and Sheffield, looked at those who were unemployed in countries around the world which were simi­lar to the UK.

It found that unemployment damaged people’s well-being; also, that people did not “adapt” to being unemployed as they might to other life situations or difficulties.

Those with an extrovert person­ality type were found to suffer less on average, and those who were conscientious suffered more from being out of work. Those who had plenty of support from friends or family also reported suf­fering less.

The director of WWCW, Nancy Hey, said: “Work is a big factor when it comes to our mental health and well-being. When we are unem­ployed, we can struggle with isola­tion, meaning, and a sense of pur­pose. Attending religious services seems to counteract the damage done by unemployment; it’s a fas­cinating finding, and more research needs to be done.”

Mark Bryan, a Reader in Econo­mics at the University of Sheffield and a co-author of the study, said: “The research shows that our well-being depends on more than our in­­dividual experiences. Social support and being part of a community are important coping mechanisms for the unemployed.”

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