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Religious Britons significantly happier and more satisfied with life, new research shows

A study produced by the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life reveals that people of faith in Britain are significantly happier than atheists and non-religious people.

The study, titled ‘Keep the Faith: Mental Health in the UK’, authored by Dr Rakib Ehsan for the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life (IIFL) shows that, on average, people for whom religion is an important part of their identity are happier, more optimistic and more resilient than atheists and non-religious people.

On key metrics, Brits who identify as more religious report a higher level of mental wellbeing, than those who are less devout:

  • 73% say they have ‘good psychological wellbeing,’ compared to 49% for atheists.
  • 76% describe themselves as happy, compared to 52% for atheists.
  • 76% are satisfied with life, compared to 53% for atheists.

Dr. Ehsan, senior research associate for IIFL and author of the report, says of the study’s findings:

“Britain is a curious mix of being a society that has become more secular but also more religiously diverse.

While the fast-paced secularisation of the British mainstream has been cited as a form of social progress, this appears not to be the case from the perspective of mental health.

Compared to non-believers, religious Britons are more likely to report good psychological well-being, satisfaction with life, and optimism over their personal future. They are also more likely to say they are confident with handling the challenges that come with life.

While it may be considered unfashionable and outdated, the sense of belonging and purpose that can be provided through religious and spiritual forms of attachment and membership should be better explored by policymakers and practitioners in the sphere of mental health.”

The producer of the report, IIFL, is a research forum established to examine the role that faith and religious belief plays in the lives of people in the UK, whether at work, at home, or in the community.

For any further information or commentary on the report, please contact Dr Rakib Ehsan, senior research associate. For further information on IIFL, please contact Dr Jake Scott, secretary for the Institute.

Dr Rakib Ehsan
+44 (0) 7878 339 856

Dr Jake Scott
+44 (0) 7490 190 652

Notes for editors:

  • The report is based on a survey conducted by TechneUK, a British Polling Council member.
  • Fieldwork for the survey took place between the 29th of September and the 8th of October 2023.
  • 2,004 UK adults were surveyed across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Respondents were surveyed on various aspects of their mental health and psychological well-being. Of those who say their religious background is important to their identity:
    • 73% say they have had ‘good psychological wellbeing’ for the three months preceding the survey, compared to 49% of atheists.
    • 76% say they are satisfied with life, compared to 53% of atheists.
    • 76% say they are happy, compared to 52% of atheists.
    • 76% say they are confident to handle the challenges of life, compared to 56% of atheists.
    • 74% say they have a high level of self-control, compared to 51% of atheists.
    • 69% say they are optimistic over their own future, compared to 42% of atheists.