Older people who attend religious services regularly have better mental health, according to a study of people over the age of 50.

The proportion of over-50s attending services at least once a month declined by approximately 6% in the years 2010 to 2017.

Trinity College researchers with the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) gathered data from over 6,000 over-50s during the years 2010 to late 2016.

They found that a majority were attending religious services regularly, and that regular religious attendance was associated with a lower level of depressive symptoms.

But respondents who said that religion was very important to them but who did not attend very often had worse mental health. This relationship was stronger in men.

Religious attendance was also related to having a bigger social network, which in turn had a positive effect on the mental health of the age group.

Over the seven years to the end of 2016, the study also found a decline in the number of those who said they attended services at least once a month.

The decline was 6.7% among women and 5.7% among men.