The positive effects of a marriage can often be seen in the happy countenances of newlyweds as well as in the lifespans and contentment of older couples who have been married for a significant amount of time. The notion that marriage is good for one’s mental health isn’t entirely new, but the recently published results of a study based on information from nearly 35,000 people across 15 countries shows concrete indications that being married is bound to lower risks of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health concerns. The study, led by a clinical psychologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, examined rates of various mental health issues among couples who were married, as well as those who had been divorced or whose marriages had ended through other means.
The data, which was collected from an extensive survey sponsored by the World Health Organization, showed that couples who were married experienced greater overall mental health, and that men as well as women stood to gain from these benefits. Women in particular were less likely than men to participate in substance abuse if they were married, a gender difference possibly explained by domestic roles and child rearing within committed relationships. The data also showed that when couples split up, either through divorce, separation, or the death of a partner, rates of mental health concerns rose, as did concerns regarding substance abuse.
The results may help those in the mental health professions improve the quality of their care for both couples and those who have recently split or who are experiencing psychological difficulties as a result. Through a greater understanding of the mental environment surrounding marriage, professionals may be able to serve their clients with greater precision.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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