God is good for you - that's the verdict of people in Britain, according to a survey out today. It found those identifying as religious were on average 20 per cent happier and more satisfied with life than atheists or those who are less devout.
The study, titled 'Keep the Faith: Mental Health in the UK' produced by the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life reveals that people of faith in Britain are significantly more happy than atheists and non-religious people.
Dr Jake Scott at IIFL, who's a Christian, tells Premier, the results are encouraging, especially in the current climate, where faith groups around the world are in conflict. "There's a lot of fantastic work being done by groups like Alpha and of course by the Archbishops [of Canterbury and York]. This finding really should be a signal that there's more shared between faiths than we realise."
The Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life is a research forum established to examine the role that faith and religious belief plays in the lives of people in the UK, whether at work, at home, or in the community.
They analysed the figures, which were gathered from over 2,000 adults, during a 10 day period at the end of September, and found that on key metrics Brits who identify as more religious report a higher level of mental wellbeing:
• 76% describe themselves as happy, compared to 52% for atheists.
• 76% are satisfied with life, compared to 53% for atheists.
• 73% say they have ‘good psychological wellbeing,’ compared to 49% for atheists.
The data also revealed that just over half (52%) of people in Britian say they have a faith. The results on positive outlook were found to be consistent across all belief systems.
Dr. Rakib Ehsan, senior research associate for IIFL and author of the report, says those working the field of mental health should take note:
“Britain is a curious mix of being a society that has become more secular but also more religiously diverse.
"While it may be considered unfashionable and outdated, the sense of belonging and purpose that can be provided through religious and spiritual forms of attachment and membership should be better explored by policymakers and practitioners in the sphere of mental health.”
The IIFL is convening a panel discussion to consider the results with people from different faiths, at a meeting later this month.