Self-Esteem for Better Mental Health

Hope, Prayer and Spirituality Improve Self-Esteem

According to social scientist Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is one's belief in his or her capability to execute behaviors, and control one's motivation, which reflects confidence. Self-esteem has been defined by Merriam-Webster as "a confidence and satisfaction in oneself", while Psychology Today says that "possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed". Mental health is a serious issue nationally and globally, and alternative therapies can be considered for prevention and treatment. For more information on mental health statistics and global health barriers please click here.

Self-efficacy and self-esteem is vital concerning mental health, and it is important to know we can build our self-esteem through several holistic strategies.


Having hope has been statistically associated with having higher self-esteem. For example, researchers evaluated 682 adolescents' (ages 11-17) levels of hope, school engagement, life satisfaction, self-worth, and mental health. Scores of hope were divided into three groups including extremely low hope, average hope, and extremely high hope. Adolescents with extremely high hope differed on all measures, supporting the association between hope and mental health benefits. For more information on this study click here.


Having trust-based beliefs have also been found to improve self-esteem. Researchers studied the health related effects of trust-based prayer, which is the belief that God answers prayers at the right time and in the best way. Older Mexican Americans were assessed in their worship attendance, closeness to God, practice of trust-based prayer, and self-esteem. Their data supports each of these relationships, and found that "prayer expectancies are significantly associated with self-esteem, and feelings of self-esteem are, in turn, significantly related to health" (Krause & Hayward, 2014).

Behavioral scientists also found a significant positive relationships between optional prayer, obligatory prayer and self-esteem scores among people of the Islamic faith between the ages of 15 and 66. Meaning, there is evidence supporting prayer benefits on self-esteem across the life-time and across diverse cultures.


Having religious affiliation has also been statistically associated with having higher self-esteem. Research has found positive correlations between religious/spiritual activities and better sense of wellbeing and self-esteem. A psychologist explained religious affiliation as a membership or identification with a faith tradition. This faith tradition can help one solve problems and cope with stress, better known as religious problem solving.

Other research explored longitudinal associations between religiosity and psychological wellbeing among Asian American Adolescents. Their results show how religion plays a positive role in health and well-being. For example, a high school cohort was followed for 4 years and results revealed that religious identity was significantly associated with higher self-esteem, greater positive affect, the presence of meaning in life, and reduced depressive symptoms. Religious participation was also found to be positively associated with positive affect and the presence of meaning.

Note that Religious/Spiritual identity refers to one's view of his or her relationship to the sacred or divine (Plante, p. 52). For more information on the science behind spirituality click here.

Religious/Spiritual identity and participation, prayer and hope are significant on both males and females, young and old, and across diverse cultures. Furthermore, hope, prayer and religion are appropriate alternative tools to incorporate confidence and self-esteem into one's daily lives.