PEOPLE who pray and go to Church are happier and healthier than people not practising religion, a report by a leading psychiatrist has claimed.
Professor Patricia Casey said a series of international studies and research has gathered evidence that faith could ease depression, help people live longer and prevent suicide.
“The studies don’t ‘prove’ that the claims of the various religions are true or that God exists,” Prof Casey said.
“What they do show is that practising a given religion tends to have numerous personal benefits. When religion is practised by enough people this will have obvious benefits for society as well.”
Prof Casey said people should be aware of the growing body of evidence which highlights the benefits of religion, especially during the recession.
“In such times we have to rely more than ever on our families, our neighbours and our communities, and religion as well,” she said.
Professor Casey’s report said research found religious practice helps to bring about;
* Lower than average rates of depression and other mental illnesses.
* Better recovery rates after illness.
* Lower than average rates of alcohol and drug abuse.
* Lower rates of marital breakdown, crime, sexual activity among teens and fewer sexual partners.
The report, The Psycho-social Benefits of Religious Practise and commissioned by think-tank The Iona Institute was written by one of Ireland’s leading psychiatrists, Prof Casey.
It warned, however, that the studies are not conclusive.
Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin and Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Dr Ken Good have contributed to forewords in the report and called on mental health practitioners to be more open to the positive effect religion can make to wellbeing.
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