Special Issue "Religion and Mental Health Outcomes"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 July 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Xiaohe Xu

Department of Sociology, University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249-0655, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: health; sociology of marriage and family; comparative family studies; adolescents; advanced statistical methods; statistical research design

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past two decades, a burgeoning body of research has explored the multifaceted linkages between religion and a wide array of mental health outcomes, such as psychological distress, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among both civilians and active duty military personnel. Empirical studies have documented salutary or protective effects of both public (e.g., frequency of attendance at religious services) and private (e.g., prayer and unorganized in-home devotional activities) forms of religiosity on mental health. Despite denominational variations, there appears to be an inverse relationship between religiousness and depressive symptoms. In addition, religion has been widely recognized and utilized as an effective coping mechanism that can buffer the detrimental effects of various acute or chronic stressors: poverty, economic strain, housing and neighborhood disadvantages. This Special Issue calls for studies that can shed new light on the linkages between religion and various mental health outcomes, especially psychological distress. Empirical studies conducted in non-Western societies are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Xiaohe Xu
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • religion
  • religiosity
  • mental health
  • depression
  • psychological distress

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Religion and Depression in South Korea: A Comparison between Buddhism, Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism
Religions 2018, 9(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9010003
Received: 1 July 2017 / Accepted: 18 December 2017 / Published: 22 December 2017
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Abstract
Over the past few years, the occurrence of depression in South Korea has significantly increased. Even though Buddhism was the main religion in historical South Korea, Christianity has recently emerged as a dominant faith tradition. However, the relationship between religion and depression among [...] Read more.
Over the past few years, the occurrence of depression in South Korea has significantly increased. Even though Buddhism was the main religion in historical South Korea, Christianity has recently emerged as a dominant faith tradition. However, the relationship between religion and depression among older Korean adults is understudied. The present study is designed to investigate religious variations and the role of religious participation in depression among older Korean adults using the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA). From the KLoSA database, 6817 participants were extracted and analyzed. Utilizing the Korean version of the 10-item Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D 10) and the generalized linear models (GLM), a significant difference in depressive symptoms between religious groups (p < 0.05) and religious nones surfaced. This significant difference remained even after adjusting for the confounding factors. When the levels of depressive symptoms were compared across various faith traditions, the lowest depression score was detected from Buddhists (7.04), followed by Roman Catholics (7.12), and Protestants (7.71). Moreover, a significant difference in depressive symptoms between Buddhists and Protestants was observed. With regard to the frequency of religious participation, a significant difference in the depression score was observed only for Protestants. That is, the depression score for those who reported attending religious meetings ‘once to six times a year’ was significantly higher than the others. It is concluded that those who are religiously involved had significantly less depression symptoms than religious nones. Moreover, of the three faith traditions, Buddhists and Protestants showed a significant difference in depressive symptoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health Outcomes)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Religious Attachment and the Sense of Life Purpose among Emerging Adults
Religions 2017, 8(12), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8120274
Received: 2 August 2017 / Revised: 2 December 2017 / Accepted: 15 December 2017 / Published: 19 December 2017
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Abstract
The salubrious association between religious involvement and well-being is evident among the general population of religious individuals. In particular, the sense of attachment to a deity is linked to promoting healthy behavior and positive well-being. The link between religious attachment and well-being is [...] Read more.
The salubrious association between religious involvement and well-being is evident among the general population of religious individuals. In particular, the sense of attachment to a deity is linked to promoting healthy behavior and positive well-being. The link between religious attachment and well-being is particularly salient for emerging adults during a life stage where they are developing their own sense of self while also renegotiating religious commitments. The current study uses OLS regression and a lagged dependent variable model to analyze how perceived closeness to God is linked to the sense of life purpose among a diverse, national sample of emerging adults. We find that relative to those perceiving closeness to God, those who reported feeling neutral or did not believe in God experienced lower levels of life purpose. Respondents who reported feeling distant from God had the lowest scores on the Life Purpose Index. The findings are examined within the framework of religion and attachment theory literature. The study encourages researchers to consider attachment to a deity as an important link in explaining well-being outcomes, especially among religious individuals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health Outcomes)
Open AccessArticle Does Religious Involvement Mitigate the Effects of Major Discrimination on the Mental Health of African Americans? Findings from the Nashville Stress and Health Study
Religions 2017, 8(9), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8090195
Received: 2 August 2017 / Revised: 11 September 2017 / Accepted: 14 September 2017 / Published: 17 September 2017
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Abstract
Several decades of scholarly research have revealed the significant toll of discrimination experiences on the well-being of African Americans. Given these findings, investigators have become increasingly interested in uncovering any potential resources made available to African Americans for mitigating the psychosocial strains of [...] Read more.
Several decades of scholarly research have revealed the significant toll of discrimination experiences on the well-being of African Americans. Given these findings, investigators have become increasingly interested in uncovering any potential resources made available to African Americans for mitigating the psychosocial strains of discrimination. The current study contributes to this literature by testing whether various indicators of religious involvement—e.g., church attendance, prayer, and religious social support—buffer the noxious effects of major discrimination experiences on the mental health outcomes (i.e., depression and life satisfaction) of African Americans. We analyze data from the African American subsample (n = 627) of Vanderbilt University’s Nashville Stress and Health Study, a cross-sectional probability sample of adults living in Davidson County, Tennessee between the years 2011 and 2014. Results from multivariate regression models indicated (1) experiences of major discrimination were positively associated with depression and negatively associated with life satisfaction, net of religious and sociodemographic controls; and (2) religious social support offset and buffered the adverse effects of major discrimination on both mental health outcomes, particularly for those respondents who reported seeking support the most often. We discuss the implications and limitations of our study, as well as avenues for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health Outcomes)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Prayer, Meditation, and Anxiety: Durkheim Revisited
Religions 2017, 8(9), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8090191
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 1 September 2017 / Accepted: 8 September 2017 / Published: 14 September 2017
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Abstract
Durkheim argued that religion’s emphasis on the supernatural combined with its unique ability to foster strong collective bonds lent it power to confer distinctive social benefits. Subsequent research has confirmed these propositions with respect to religion and mental health. At the same time, [...] Read more.
Durkheim argued that religion’s emphasis on the supernatural combined with its unique ability to foster strong collective bonds lent it power to confer distinctive social benefits. Subsequent research has confirmed these propositions with respect to religion and mental health. At the same time, meditation has been linked to mental health benefits in intervention-based studies. Our investigation offers a unique test of two comparable inhibitors of anxiety-related symptoms in the general population, namely, prayer versus meditation. Using data from the 2010 wave of the Baylor Religion Survey, we find that frequent communal prayer is correlated with an increased incidence of anxiety-related symptoms whereas worship service attendance is negatively associated with reported anxiety. Attendance also combines with communal prayer to yield anxiety-reducing benefits. Meditation, measured as a dichotomous indicator, is unrelated to reported anxiety in our sample of American adults. Our study underscores the selective efficacy of collective forms of religious expression, and points to several promising directions for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health Outcomes)
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Open AccessArticle Do Religious Struggles Mediate the Association between Day-to-Day Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms?
Religions 2017, 8(8), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8080134
Received: 7 June 2017 / Revised: 21 July 2017 / Accepted: 25 July 2017 / Published: 27 July 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (646 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Although numerous studies have shown that discrimination contributes to poorer mental health, the precise mechanisms underlying this association are not well understood. In this paper, we consider the possibility that the association between day-to-day discrimination (being disrespected, insulted, and harassed) and depressive symptoms [...] Read more.
Although numerous studies have shown that discrimination contributes to poorer mental health, the precise mechanisms underlying this association are not well understood. In this paper, we consider the possibility that the association between day-to-day discrimination (being disrespected, insulted, and harassed) and depressive symptoms is partially mediated by religious struggles (religious doubts and negative religious coping). To test our mediation model, we use data collected from the 2011 Miami-Dade Health Survey (n = 444) to estimate a series of multiple regression models assessing associations among day-to-day discrimination, religious struggles, and depressive symptoms. We find that day-to-day discrimination is positively associated with religious struggles and depressive symptoms, net of adjustments for general religious involvement, age, gender, race, ethnicity, immigrant status, interview language, education, employment, household income, financial strain, and marital status. We also observe that religious struggles are positively associated with depressive symptoms. Our mediation analyses confirm that day-to-day discrimination can contribute to depressive symptoms by stirring religious struggles. Our key finding is that religious struggles may serve as a maladaptive coping response to discrimination. Our analyses extend previous work by bridging research in the areas of discrimination, religious struggles, and mental health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health Outcomes)
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Open AccessArticle Kept in His Care: The Role of Perceived Divine Control in Positive Reappraisal Coping
Religions 2017, 8(8), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8080133
Received: 10 June 2017 / Revised: 22 July 2017 / Accepted: 24 July 2017 / Published: 26 July 2017
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (554 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A formidable body of literature suggests that numerous dimensions of religious involvement can facilitate productive coping. One common assumption in this field is that religious worldviews provide overarching frameworks of meaning by which to positively reinterpret stressors. The current study explicitly tests this [...] Read more.
A formidable body of literature suggests that numerous dimensions of religious involvement can facilitate productive coping. One common assumption in this field is that religious worldviews provide overarching frameworks of meaning by which to positively reinterpret stressors. The current study explicitly tests this assumption by examining whether perceived divine control—i.e., the notion that God controls the course and direction of one’s life—buffers the adverse effects of recent traumatic life events on one’s capacity for positive reappraisal coping. We analyze cross-sectional survey data from Vanderbilt University’s Nashville Stress and Health Study (2011–2014), a probability sample of non-Hispanic black and white adults aged 22 to 69 living in Davidson County, Tennessee (n = 1252). Findings from multivariate regression models confirm: (1) there was an inverse association between past-year traumatic life events and positive reappraisals; but (2) perceived divine control significantly attenuated this inverse association. Substantively, our findings suggest that people who believe God controls their life outcomes are better suited for positively reinterpreting traumatic experiences. Implications, limitations, and avenues for future research are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health Outcomes)
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