Mental health care in the growing US Muslim population is a relevant topic given ongoing discrimination and self-stigma similar to that seen in other racial and religious communities. Data concerning efforts to integrate religious practice or spiritual concepts into mental health education are limited. Therefore, the objective of this study was to analyze views about psychiatric illness and treatment before and after a mental health symposium at a community mosque led by faith leaders and mental health professionals.
A total of 31 matched presurveys and postsurveys were collected from participants at the symposium to assess attitudes about psychiatric illness and treatment before and after the intervention. The surveys were analyzed using SAS.
At baseline, the highly religious and educated population that participated in the survey had high levels of agreement with the conceptualization of psychiatric illness as a biological problem and less so as a spiritual problem. Even so, at baseline, only approximately half of the participants indicated that they would talk to a medical doctor about mental health problems, and participants were significantly less positive about taking psychotropic medication for illness, compared with after the intervention. Educational attainment was positively associated with the conceptualization of psychosis as a biological problem, with willingness to speak to a medical doctor, and with willingness to take antidepressant medications.
The findings of this study suggest the potential effectiveness of coordinated interventions by religious leaders and mental health professionals to address the reluctance of Muslims to use psychotropic medication treatment when indicated. Limitations of this study include the self-selection of a highly-educated subset of the greater Muslim population that may already have been interested in a mental health symposium. For the future, research should consider the use of psychoeducation in general religious services to reach a more representative sample of practicing Muslims.