Stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues in teens and young adults have eroded during the pandemic, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are no exception. New study Find.
Earlier in 2022, the Springtide Research Institute surveyed 4,038 Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 on mental health and spirituality. Of these, there were 3139 students, the results of which are presented in the data below. This included 163 who identified themselves as Latter-day Saints.
in “Mental health and Generation Z: What teachers need to knowResearchers have identified a number of issues that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including social isolation and additional academic stress made worse by distance education.
Springtide was particularly interested in the intersection of religion and mental health in the lives of adolescents and young adults. Does religious activity help reduce mental and emotional health problems? If they have psychological problems, are religious teens more or less likely to receive help? And which religions do the best job of caring for young people with mental health challenges, as far as this can be determined by the data?
Overall, more than 71% of young people said they were religious, and 78% said they were spiritual. Having a religious identity is not associated with increased self-reported mental and emotional health. Those with a religious affiliation were more likely to say they were satisfied with their lives (60% vs. 51%) and were “well-equipped to deal with life and its hardships” (61% vs. 51%). They reported being happier and less depressed overall.
Among the Latter-day Saints surveyed, there were bright spots but also areas of interest for fathers, church leaders, and teachers.
Last day of St respondents had higher rates of treatment for mental health problems. For example, 43% said they had received treatment or hospitalization for mental health issues at some point in their lives, compared to 28% of non-LDS participants.
In terms of counseling, nearly half have worked with a mental health professional (47%) or were currently seeing one, which is slightly higher than the overall sample (41%).
But this is not necessarily a sign that Latter-day Saints have more psychological problems than other young people. It is a sign that they are receiving treatment from it.
“If a given community has, on average, higher income levels, it will have greater access to mental health support,” said Kevin Singer, Springtide’s head of media and public relations. “In nearly all cases, students who report higher household incomes have greater interaction with mental health resources and with adults who care.”
This is a triple whammy, because families with deep pockets are likely to 1) have private insurance that pays for counseling and medication; 2) to be able to pay out of pocket for any treatments not covered by insurance; 3) Living in areas with affluent school systems that can afford school therapists and psychologists.
In terms of socioeconomic status, Latter Day Saints in the survey were likely to be slightly above average (31%, compared to 23%) or average (48%, compared to 40%).
The survey provided other indications that teens and young adults of the Latter-day Saint had greater access to treatment. Four-fifths of these respondents (80%) reported that they had “spoken to a mental health professional such as a therapist, counselor, or psychologist in the past three months for help with emotional challenges/problems.” Just under half (47%) of non-LDS participants said the same.
Three quarters (76%) of Latter Day Saints say they have talked about their mental health with a trusted adult at school, compared to 39% of non-LDS youth. This is interesting, because the survey also found that Latter-day Saints have a higher rate of thinking that school counselors did not share their beliefs and therefore may not understand their own challenges. What this indicates is that the teens and young adults of the Latter Day Saint were looking for reliable adults even though they worried that these adults might not fully understand what they were going through.
Regarding potential religious support, 80% said they had spoken with a “trusted adult outside of school, such as a relative, religious/spiritual leader, etc. in the past three months to help with emotional challenges/problems,” compared to 53% of youth is LDS.
All of this is good news, possibly, in that teens and young adults on Late St today seem to be bogged down in support systems. Singer said, “They don’t seem to feel particularly lonely at school in relation to their peers. They are just as likely to have friends. They don’t feel more isolated or separated at school.”
The potential problem area, according to the data, is in parental relationships. Given the strong emphasis the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints places, on family cohesion and that parents being so involved in their children’s lives, this is ironic, but it appears that Latter-day Saints youth in the survey did not see their parents as supportive of mental health treatment.
There was a gap of nearly 20 points between two-thirds of Saint respondents in recent days who noted “my parents/guardians don’t take my mental health concerns seriously” (63%) and non-LDS respondents who said the same (44%).
Another gap emerged when they were asked if they wanted their parents or guardians to know if they met a counselor or therapist at school. Sixty-one percent of Latter Day Saint youth did not want their parents to know, compared to 47% among other respondents.
As always when we are dealing with a relatively small sample, the margin of error is higher for Latter-day Saint respondents than it is, for example, for Catholics and Protestants in the sample.
Even with that in mind, Singer said the differences between Latter-day Saint responders and non-LDS participants in mental health therapies “are significant. Somewhere, young Saints in Latter-day Saints are finding an opportunity to trust the adults in their lives who have health issues.” Mental health. Maybe a youth group leader. Maybe they find safe adults in the church. But not necessarily the parents. Maybe it’s because LDS parents traditionally have high standards for the level of mental health that their community is supposed to display.”
(The opinions expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of the Religion News Service.)