More people are now saying they have a faith-related illness than previously thought, according to a new study, with a majority saying they are at risk of developing a serious illness from it.
The study from University College London found that more than one in five people aged between 16 and 64 have had an illness with a religious theme, a statistic that rose to nearly one in three in the past three years.
That figure is up from around one in seven people in 2012, and is the highest since the survey began in 2008.
The rise is driven by a rise in the number of people in the UK who say they have experienced a religious event or illness in the last year.
While the number fell in 2016, the proportion of people saying they had experienced a spiritual or spiritual-related event or health issue increased by three percentage points to nearly two in three.
There are several reasons why this increase may be due to increased numbers of people seeking help from a faith health service, including increased access to mental health services and the rise in social anxiety.
It also comes as ministers are preparing to publish a new NHS guidelines for mental health service providers to reduce the stigma of mental health disorders.
The research, published in the journal BMC Public Health, also found that the proportion saying they were a member of a faith faith group had increased from 11 per cent to 12 per cent, while the proportion with a disability was up from 16 per cent.
The report found that a total of 9,958 people had experienced at least one illness of a spiritual nature from religion in the previous year, with those experiencing the illness most likely to have been affected by it being older people and people with disabilities.
There were more people with an illness in faith groups than in other groups.
The survey also found a significant rise in people who had a disability.
The findings suggest the increasing numbers of health issues are linked to a rise of religious beliefs, the authors said.
The latest figures are from the British Psychological Society’s annual survey of adults, which also found there was a rise between 2013 and 2015 in the proportion who had felt isolated, worried, or stressed at some time during the year.
The number of adults saying they felt lonely, worried or stressed increased from 22 per cent in 2013 to 29 per cent last year, the survey found.
It found that most people said they felt the most isolated and worried in 2016.
But the number who had experienced more stress than others also increased from 19 per cent of adults to 28 per cent between 2013 to 2016.
The survey also revealed that many people felt they had a sense of safety in faith communities, with nearly a quarter of adults reporting feeling safe in their community in 2016 compared to only 15 per cent who felt the same way in 2013.
The proportion reporting feeling unsafe in their own community increased from 18 per cent back in 2013, but then dropped to 14 per cent by 2016.