Perceptions of mental health and illness amongst Australian Ismaili Muslim youth

Karim Mitha, Shelina Adatia, Mariam Tarik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Extant research on mental health within Muslim communities reveals inequalities, with religio-cultural beliefs viewed as influencing experience, access to care, and treatment outcomes. Additionally, religious affiliation is a prominent marker of social identity amongst Muslim migrant communities. This study examined whether acculturative approaches and identity influence perceptions of mental ill health within a Muslim migrant community.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 Australian Muslim youth – six of whom were recent immigrants and five who were Australian-born/raised. Data was analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.

Two main themes were identified: 1) making sense of mental health, and 2) the influence of social representations. Sub-themes included: 1a) defining mental health, 1b) perceived determinants, 2a) “emotional” vs “factual”, and 2b) education through experience: personal encounters with mental illness.

Overall, faith and religion played an important role in conceptualisations of mental health for young Australian Muslims – alluding to the necessity of faith-sensitive mental health services for ethnic and religious minority communities.

Key Points
What is already known about this topic:

Cultural beliefs influence mental health understandings, access to care, and treatment for Muslims.

For Muslims, conceptualisations of mental ill health are often based on cultural and pre-Islamic influences (e.g., the role of supernatural spirits).

Cultural context affects access to, and experiences of, mental health services.

What this topic adds:

Muslim youth feel that faith and religion are vital for mental well-being and self-efficacy, highlighting the importance of adapting therapeutic modalities within a faith-sensitive paradigm.

For recent immigrants, the influence of the supernatural on mental health is not necessarily negative.

Personal experience impacts perceptions of mental illness and may play a role in reducing stigma.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian psychologist
Early online date8 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Australia
  • culture
  • mental Health
  • muslim
  • Religion
  • youth


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