Religious discrimination and common mental disorders in England: a nationally representative population-based study

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2015 Nov;50(11):1723-9. doi: 10.1007/s00127-015-1110-6. Epub 2015 Aug 20.


Purpose: Although the impact of discrimination on mental health has been increasingly discussed, the effect of religious discrimination has not been examined systematically. We studied the prevalence of perceived religious discrimination and its association with common mental disorders in a nationally representative population-based sample in England.

Methods: We used data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007 that represents all adults age 16 years and over living in private households in England. Common mental disorders were ascertained using the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule. Experience of discrimination was assessed by a computer-assisted self-report questionnaire and potential paranoid traits by the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire.

Results: From the total of 7318 participants, 3873 (52.4%) reported adhering to religion. 108 subjects (1.5%) reported being unfairly treated in the past 12 months due to their religion. Non-Christian religious groups were more likely to report perceived religious discrimination compared to Christians (OR 11.44; 95% CI 7.36-17.79). People who experienced religious discrimination had increased prevalence of all common mental disorders. There was a two-fold increase in the risk of common mental disorders among people who reported experience of religious discrimination independent of their ethnicity, skin colour or suspected paranoid traits.

Conclusions: The impact of perceived religious discrimination on mental health should be given more consideration in treatment and future preventative policies.

Keywords: Common mental disorders; Discrimination; Household survey; Religion.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Religion*
  • Self Report
  • Young Adult