The Role of Religion in Human Health in Europe
The concept of religion can be broadly defined as a belief system that facilitates spirituality and helps us achieve a variety of life goals. It occurs within a framework of traditions and institutions, but its primarily spiritual nature makes it distinctive from other social institutions. In fact, no other social institution has as its main purpose the facilitation of spirituality.
Most Europeans categorize themselves as either religious or spiritual, but there are also some that do not identify with any religious or spiritual belief. Of these, the majority (54%) say they have no belief in a higher power and are not particularly spiritual. The latter group is the largest category, and it comprises a substantial proportion of the population in most Western European countries. In fact, in Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands, clear majorities of the population identify as neither religious nor spiritual.
While religion has many benefits, it is important to keep in mind that its effectiveness is dependent on how it is explained and practiced. Likewise, the way religion is expressed depends on the culture and society in which it is practiced. As such, its role in human health must be understood within a cultural framework. While it is not a panacea for all health problems, it can enhance spirituality and well-being.
During difficult times, it is important to keep in mind the importance of spirituality in one’s life. For example, spirituality helps to cope with mental illness and can offer hope to sufferers. Even if one is not a member of a religious community, it can be a source of inspiration.