YouVersion Offers Features to Combat 'Epidemic' of Loneliness and Isolation
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The mobile Bible app "YouVersion" wants its platform to connect believers to the Word of God in order to improve mental health and help people find peace of mind.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and YouVersion is encouraging people to prioritize their mental health by engaging in the Bible and building Christ-centered relationships.
According to a new advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, many Americans lack social connection which can lead to poor health and other negative outcomes.
Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of premature death by 26% and 29% respectively, according to the report. Lacking social connection can increase death as much as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.
In addition, poor or insufficient social connection is associated with an increased risk of disease. The report cites a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke. There is also an increased risk for anxiety, depression, and dementia.
One of the driving factors in this loneliness and isolation epidemic was the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of U.S. adults report experiencing loneliness, with some of the highest rates among young adults.
"Social connection is a fundamental human need, as essential to survival as food, water, and shelter. Throughout history, our ability to rely on one another has been crucial to survival," said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy.
"We have an opportunity, and an obligation, to make the same investments in addressing social connection that we have made in addressing tobacco use obesity and the addiction crisis," he added.
YouVersion sees its app as an opportunity to encourage people to strengthen their relationships and improve their mental health.
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"We weren't created to go through life alone. We were designed by God to live in relationship with Him and with other believers," said YouVersion Founder, and CEO Bobby Gruenewald. "That's why we're passionate about offering our Community a set of features that not only helps them draw closer to God but helps them experience the Bible within trusted relationships."
The app will help people stay connected to each other around God's word with the following features:
* Friends—Adding Friends gives people the opportunity to connect with a small group of trusted Friends within the app so that they can grow in their faith together. Once a Friend request is accepted, both people are able to see and leave comments on each other's Bible engagement activity by tapping on Community at the top of the Home Feed.
* Plans with Friends—Plans with Friends offers a simple, easy way for people to study the Bible alongside others who care about their spiritual growth. People can choose from one of the thousands of Plans available in the app, including Plans on some of the most-searched topics like anxiety, peace, and hope.
* Prayer—The Prayer feature helps people grow in their daily prayer life and experience the power of prayer in the community. In addition to being able to add private prayers to their list, people can share them with Friends in the app.
* Discover Churches Nearby—Anyone who wants to connect with a local church can use the Discover feature to find a church near them.
"We believe spiritual growth best happens within the context of relationships," Gruenewald said. "We're honored to play a part in helping people find hope, peace, and meaningful connections as they engage in God's Word together."
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