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.”