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What You Believe Can Save Your Life - Literally!

What you believe can save your life - literally! After enduring the withering effects of psychiatry for most of the twentieth-century, religious practices - and the role it plays in the life of millions - has made a comeback.

Despite the daily onslaught clergy and other religious-based practitioners endure on social media and other outlets, we now know that one's faith is indeed a major factor in overcoming the vicissitudes of life.

No, religion, it turns out, does not impose hysteria, irrationality and neurosis, regardless of what the mid twentieth-century Freudian-inspired commentary concluded. Instead, religion and faith actually play a major role in the opposite of those conclusions.

Indeed, as life stressors increase, faith-based practices become even more potent. According to the publication Psychiatric Times, across 93 observational studies conducted in 2010, "two-thirds found lower rates of depressive disorder with fewer depressive symptoms in persons who were more religious".

A quarter-century of research concur:

  • Several studies have found that high levels of faith commitment correlate with lower levels of depression and stress.

  • Believers with well-grounded belief systems consistently report greater overall happiness and satisfaction with life and are generally more positive about life.

  • A large-scale study found that people who did not attend church were four times as likely to commit suicide than were frequent attendees.

This leads to two obvious questions: What do you believe and how does your belief system act as a source of empowerment and a deterrent to suicide ideation?

I read recently in an article that 80% of all attempted suicides in the black community were attempted by males. Let that sink in.

How may faith and praxis change this disturbing trend? What can clergy and lay leadership do to minister to this segment of our community (even more disturbing is the accelerating suicide rate of black males ages 15-24, a trend decades in the making!)? How may we restore the disconnect of our men in an era of Trumpism, pandemic-inspired maladaptive behaviors and a rising secular discontent with all things religious?

It will require a new method and a new commitment. Somehow, we must get our community - particularly our men - to believe again. Because what we believe can save our lives. Literally!

Pastor W. Eric Croomes is a Faith Influencer and Believer's Coach and the curator of Black Men Mental Wellness.

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