Here at Cath Soc, we understand and empathise with the trials and tribulations that come with student life and the difficulty in navigating it. Whether that be academic pressures, living away from home, or those Thursday hangovers after Hey Ewe. However, we also understand how important of a role faith and spirituality play in finding strength in these difficult and trying times.

As the whole world, not just students, faces an increase in difficult time, it is no surprise that religion, especially Catholicism is on the rise. In the first eight years of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the number of people entering the Catholic church increased by 10%. Moreover, an increasingly larger number of young people and students are attending and becoming drawn to the Traditional Catholic Latin Mass, the age-old order of the mass prior to the 1960s. One online study confirmed that the 18 to 39 age range had the highest interest and attendance to the TLM[1].

But why? We have been collecting and crunching some numbers at Cath Soc. A questionnaire was delivered to students, asking them their religious affiliation (Catholic, No religion, or Other.) They were then asked to report how they perceived their mental health to be while at university.

Unfortunately, students who reported having no faith said they often struggled more with mental health. All bar two atheist students rated their mental health as either satisfactory or below satisfactory. Moreover, only one atheist respondent said they believed atheism could be conducive to improving student mental health. On the other hand, most if not all, Catholic students believed Catholicism had the opportunity to help an individual’s mental health. Catholic respondents provided me with their own experiences of faith helping them to overcome struggles and difficulties. Examples of responses received include “It has helped me tremendously especially dealing with anxiety and loneliness. I believe it helped me through my darkest moments in my life. I still have battles daily but when I remind myself about my belief, I find comfort and peace in my life.”  

Another response hinged on the topic of purpose and fulfilment, “Poor mental health is the lack of purpose in their lives and meaninglessness. Catholicism gives us that universal goal and purpose. Furthermore, it builds up on everyone’s personal purposes and vocations allowing people to embrace their talents.”

As the responses show, students who express faith in Catholicism report higher levels of satisfaction in their mental health. But once again, we ask why. Firstly, all but one Catholic student responded they regularly practise their beliefs. This means regular prayers and mass attendance. The majority of atheist students said they do not regularly practise their beliefs. This is because atheism is not bound by any practices. Therefore, consistent observation and participation in Catholic sacraments allow us to set aside time to reflect upon ourselves, what we have done, failed to do, and best practices to make us feel better and stronger. While this is not to say atheist individuals do not reflect upon themselves and mental health, it is not a luxury afforded by the atheist belief system collectively.

Secondly, all Catholic students reported feeling a sense of objective truth found in Catholicism. The peace of mind and clarity bought by a sense of objective truth was something not communicated by atheist students. This sense of having something solid to anchor onto is like a warm blanket. There’s something about having a sense of clarity, an unwavering belief in something bigger than yourself, that’s bringing a sense of peace and calm to Catholic students. In the uncertainty that is university life, nothing can be more comforting than knowing we greater good and purpose in this campus and life.


Edited by: Jasmine Trapnell


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