Well, this isn’t (totally) a surprise…
Each November, Gallup polls Americans to find out how they feel about their own mental health and for the last 20 years, those numbers have pretty much stayed the same…until now.
For the first time since 2001, those who self report being in ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ mental health have declined considerably for a variety of reasons but it wouldn’t be a stretch to blame a decent part of it on COVID-19. You can see the big picture numbers below.
Gallup probed 7 different categories to demonstrate patterns in separate demographics including gender, political party affiliation, how often religious services were attended, race, marital status, age and income. In every demographic area but one there was a decrease in the number of people that felt they had a high mental health state.
The ONLY area in which there was an indication that mental health had improved throughout 2020 was for those who had attended some kind of religious service weekly. You can see those numbers below.
I think that is significant, don’t you?
The only group that indicated that they were doing better than the year before were attending religious services weekly?!
That’s amazing! Especially in a time when many are not attending services at all or infrequently.
It is important to note that Gallup does not specify which religious services those who were polled were attending. It could be Christian services, Hindu services, Islamic services, etc.
That doesn’t really surprise me, though. The service itself is not what makes us Christian. The service is meant to be the place where we worship, connect, build relationships and grow.
There certainly are a number of obstacles for many to practice this right now, but it does show us that community enhances our lives. How much more should Christian community enhance our own feeling of well being and mental health when we are doing life with each other on a weekly basis?
There is much that is unknown about moving forward as a church in 2021.
One thing that is important no matter what…the need for authentic, loving and true relationships with other followers of Christ.
With much love,