When COVID hit many things deemed “non-essential” were shut down, including our churches. However, a recent Gallop poll suggests that of everything, church is MOST essential. Let me explain.
Every November, Gallop does a survey of Americans asking about their health and healthcare. Their report was released on December 7, 2020 and the findings were quite interesting. People were questioned about their view of their mental health and the results showed that 34% of Americans felt their mental health was excellent. While that might seem like a good number, it was actually down from 43% in 2019. A 9% drop in a survey like this is significant. But, digging deeper into the numbers finds something even more meaningful. Across every category measured, save for one, American’s assessment of their mental health declined between 2019 and 2020. It is pretty fair to attribute that overwhelming decline to the impact of COVID and the resulting pandemic.
Here is where it gets interesting for us. It was reported that for those who attend weekly religious service, their self assessment of their mental health increased by 4 points. Let’s reflect on that a bit. The only people saying that their mental health improved during this most difficult year were those who attended church services weekly.
If you look at the numbers in the blue box, you see where the increase in self assessment of mental health increased by four points. If you look at the arrow, that is pointing out those who seldom or never go to church assessing their mental health as declining by 13 points since last year. When I consider the range between those who attend church weekly to those who never attend church, the shift is 17 points! To me, this is evidence of why church is, very much, essential.
Imagine the impact on mental health for society if people simply started to go to church again. As we seek to re-engage with parishioners, the facts from this study are compelling. Attending church, not only supports spiritual development, it is critical for mental health as well, regardless of what is happening in our world.
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Click the link here to read the Gallop article, in its entirety.