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It’s official: go to church and live longer!

A FERMANAGH priest has welcomed a study which details that older people who go to church have better mental health.
A new study released by Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin details that those who had a high religious attendance had lower depressive symptoms. 
The research, involving over 6,000 adults aged 50 and over, found that a majority of over 50s in Ireland attend religious services regularly, and that regular religious attendance was associated with lower depressive symptoms in this population. 
Observations took place for six years, from 2010 to 2016 and religious attendance was also related to having a bigger social network, which in turn had a positive effect on the mental health of the population.
Lisnaskea parish priest Fr Jimmy McPhilips said the ‘study is no real surprise.’
“Other surveys would have gone a little further and also suggested physical health improvements. They would also have concluded that ones very mortality could be reduced by as much as 20% and so the real truth lies is that religion and health are very much connected.”
The study also found that over the first four years of TILDA, religious attendance declined slightly for both men and women, from 91% to 89% in women, and from 89% to 87% in men. Fr McPhillips believes that while numbers are decreasing, the church ‘most certainly has a future.’
“The Church most certainly has a very important social role in keeping ones both mental and physical health in good shape. The real challenge of course is for society to accept this reality, to personally accept this as we witness major decline in Church attendance. 
“It’s also a challenge for those who work in the media to be less critical of the role that religion plays in society, and of  course the challenge is also there for we clergy to ensure that when people do come to Church that they find an uplifting, positive and hope-filled liturgy,” said Fr McPhillips.
 
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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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