International study shows church attendance is good for young people's mental health

Chicago Dom Bosco group,  WYD Krakow. ICN/JS

Chicago Dom Bosco group, WYD Krakow. ICN/JS

A new worldwide study of 18-35 year olds has found that young people who attend church regularly are significantly more likely to be healthy mentally than those who don't.

Key findings include:

Respondents who attend a place of worship weekly were less likely to say they experience anxiety (22%), than those who do not attend church regularly (33%).

51% of practising Christians stated they felt "optimistic about the future" secure in who they are, able to accomplish their goals, and have someone that believes in them - compared with 34 % of those with no faith.

16% of practising Christians said they felt "lonely and isolated from others", far lower than those with no faith (31%)

28% of young people often feel sad or depressed compared with 18% among practicing Christians.

This latest report, conducted by Barna Group, The Connected Generation, surveyed more than 15,000 young adults across 26 countries, and has been released in partnership with children's charity World Vision. This survey is one of the one of the largest global studies of its kind ever to be conducted.

President of Barna Group, David Kinnaman said: "Through the largest single study in Barna's history, we've gained unique insights into the most pressing issues and concerns facing Millennials and Gen Z-cohorts who are much talked about and often misunderstood. In addition to providing many hopeful signs about the opportunities ahead of these generations, the study shows powerful connections between practicing faith and overall well-being."

Kinnaman said: "For years now, our team has gone to great lengths to listen to the stories and experiences of teenagers and young adults across the religious spectrum-from devoted and passionate adherents of Christianity and other faiths, to those for whom religion is an artefact of a bygone era. From this report we do see evidence that some key mentorships and friendships are common among young people with a faith, and patterns in the data at least suggest religion may play some role in keeping loneliness at bay."

The research suggests that faith also plays a role in how actively young people engage in voluntary work. Those who were engaged with church were more likely to regularly contribute through volunteering to their community or world (39 per cent compared to 23 per cent) and more likely to give financially to charitable causes (23 per cent to 17 per cent).

World Vision UK CEO Tim Pilkington said: "We wanted to get a global understanding of 18-35-year-olds and what they perceive to be the challenges they face. Many elements of the findings have been illuminating, but I hope church leaders will be encouraged by the confirmation that the local church can be a place of leadership development, empowerment and a source of genuine hope."

The full report is available in digital and print editions. For more information see:

Tags: Mental Health, Barna Group, The Connected Generation, World Vision, David Kinnaman, Tim Pilkington

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