A review of mental health strategies among minorities to inform approaches for help seeking for Muslim Canadians
I spent the summer doing a literature review on minority mental health initiatives that increase help seeking in hopes it can inform approaches for Muslim Canadians. Specifically, I studied Jewish and South Asian minority groups in western contexts because they share similarities with Muslims.
Muslim Canadians are a diverse group who face unique challenges when it comes to accessing mental health services. It has been established that Muslims face discrimination from healthcare providers and stigma from their own communities when accessing mental health care however, research has not explored how help seeking can be improved for this community. With Islam being the fastest growing religion in Canada, there is a need to evaluate ways to increase help seeking among this population. To inform effective help seeking approaches, one can take lessons from other minority groups that share similarities with Muslim Canadians such as Jewish and South Asian populations in western contexts. In doing so, we find that intersectionality and prioritizing community-based interventions are major themes that can increase help seeking among Muslim Canadians and need to be further explored. Training therapists to be understanding of faith-based decisions and training religious leaders (i.e., imams) counselling strategies help build rapport and are effective methods that may apply to Muslim Canadians. Therapists need to ensure they understand their clients’ religious needs in order to make appropriate recommendations for treatments that align with Islamic religious views. Imams work closely with the Muslim community and provide regular religious counselling yet they lack training on supporting mental health. External organizations catering to Muslims and minorities can support imams by showcasing relevant services and training can help imams become more comfortable counselling Muslims on mental health. Together, these approaches may support help seeking initiatives for the Muslim minority population in Canada.
I am a University of Toronto Laidlaw scholar for the 2021/22 cohort.