A University of Queensland PhD thesis come to some interesting conclusions about new-age spirituality and mental health:
Rosemary Aird examined a possible correlation between new forms of spirituality and mental health as part of her University of Queensland PhD studies.
After surveying more than 3700 Brisbane-based 21-year-olds, she found spirituality and self-focused religions may undermine a person's mental health.
"I had a look at two different beliefs - one was a belief in God, associated with traditional religions, and the other was the newer belief in a spiritual or higher power other than God," Dr Aird said.
The research found non-traditional belief was linked with higher rates of anxiety, depression, disturbed and suspicious ways of thinking and anti-social behaviour.
New-age beliefs promote the idea of self-transformation, self-fulfilment and self-enlightenment, which could see many people excluded from a community environment, she said.
"Traditional religion tends to promote the idea of social responsibility and thinking of others' interests, whereas the new-age movement pushes the idea that we can transform the world by changing ourselves.
"The downside is that people are very much on their own and not part of a community, which may lead to a kind of isolation."
Young people with new-age beliefs were twice as likely to be more anxious and depressed than those with traditional beliefs, the research found.
Why would this be the case? Aside from the lack of community, Aird notes the lack of a stable belief system:
As people have moved away from traditional religious beliefs in recent times, most have been left with a desire to find meaning and purpose in life, she said.
"People who are into the new-age spirituality tend to shop around and will often borrow from all sorts of old beliefs, like Wicca, witchcraft or Native American religions.
"It's a whole mish-mash and changes all the time, where they'll do something for a while before doing something else."
What do you think?