Faith in the System: Muslim-American Attitudes Toward Seeking Mental Health Services

Mental health services in the United States are generally underutilized among minorities (Cauce et al., 2002; Lambert, 2004). Existing literature documents Muslim-Americans’ negative views towards seeking mental health services (Ali, Liu, & Humiedan, 2004; Aloud, 2004). Muslim-American participants were recruited at an Islamic Center in Northern California, and through social media groups. A modified version of Aloud’s (2004) Attitudes Toward Seeking Formal Mental Health Services Scale was used to explore factors that may influence such attitudes. Perceived societal stigma was negatively correlated with positive attitudes, culturally and spiritually based views of mental illness, familiarity with formal mental health services, as well as selected demographic factors. A negative correlation between stigma and positive attitudes toward seeking formal mental health services was found, and familiarity with mental health services was positively associated with help-seeking attitudes. Participants who identified as third generation immigrants (and beyond) or being of European descent reported significantly more positive attitudes than first or second generation immigrants, or those who identified as Arab or Indo-Paki, respectively. Strength of cultural beliefs about the causes of mental health problems was a strong predictor of negative attitudes toward seeking formal mental health services. Implications regarding trends in factors that influence Muslim-Americans attitudes toward seeking formal mental health services are discussed.