Mental Health Perceptions of Muslim American College Students

Sangida Akter and Dr. Peter Fraenkel, Department of Psychology, The City University of New York - City College, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY, 10031

        As of 2018, mental illness is more prevalent among young adults aged 18-25 in the U.S., than any other age group. Furthermore, between 2008-2017, the percentage of U.S. adults (18-25) faced with serious psychological distress in the last month has increased 71%. Relatively little data exists for how this increase is impacting one subset of the population: Muslim American young adults (<30), who make up a third of the U.S. Muslim population. The available data indicates that Muslim American adults (18-98) often support Western ideas of mental illness as originating from biomedical, social, and environmental causes. Yet, these ideas coexist with opposing beliefs about supernatural and psycho-spiritual roots of mental illness. The present study uses a mixed-methods design to explore the attitudes and beliefs of Muslim American college students regarding mental health and illness, the sources (cultural, religious, or otherwise) of those attitudes and beliefs, lifetime exposure to mental health disorders, willingness to seek out mental health professionals, and knowledge of available mental health resources. Twenty undergraduate, Muslim students between the ages of 18-25 and from various cultural backgrounds and educational disciplines, throughout the City University of New York, completed 3 quantitative survey measures (a demographic and context questionnaire, the Vancouver Index of Acculturation, and the Sahin-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Islam Revised) and participated in a 1.5-2 hour semi-structured interview. Participants received a $10 Amazon gift card as compensation. It is anticipated that results will show (1) an inverse correlation between degree of religiosity and attitudes about mental illness/treatment, (2) a positive correlation between acculturation and attitudes about mental illness/treatment, and (3) more positive attitudes and beliefs toward mental health/illness in participants than among their parents and/or grandparents, who often have not been college educated and were the generation who immigrated to the U.S.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Sangida Akter

Institution: City University of New York- City College

Type: Oral

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Oral 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 1041
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