Peoples’ perceptions of a higher power can have an impact on their mental health, according to researchers from the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.

The reports, which analyzed data from two separate studies and was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychcology, found that those who viewed God as a “benevolent” being were noted to worry less and were not as concerned with life’s uncertainties than those who envisioned an indifferent or punishing God.

The first study polled 332 Christians and Jews from religious websites and found that “those who trusted in God to look out for them had lower levels of worry and less intolerance of uncertainty in their lives than those who had a ‘mistrust’ of God to help them out.”

The second study involved 125 subjects from Jewish organizations, who participated in a two-week  audio-video program designed to increase trust in God. According to the report, “Participants in the two-week program reported significant increases in trust in God and significant decreases in mistrust in God, as well as clinically and statistically significant decreases in intolerance of uncertainty, worry and stress.”

Lead author David H. Rosmarin, assistant in psychology at McLean, said the results of this study show that health professionals should take their patients’ spiritual beliefs into consideration upon treating and diagnosing.

“We had proposed that beliefs about God, both positive and negative, would relate to both worry and intolerance of uncertainty and we found support for our model,” Rosmarin said in an interview. “They do relate.”