While the concept of healthcare is largely respected in Arab culture, the stigma underlying mental health is particularly startling. This study examined the differences in mental health treatment-seeking behaviors using data from Arabs living in Syria (12.9%) and Arabs (25.6%) and non-Arabs (61.5%) living in the United States of ages 18-60. A Web-based survey was developed to understand how factors like religiosity, acculturation, and positive attitudes towards psychological treatment increased help-seeking behaviors. This survey was also provided in Arabic to include non-English speaking participants. It was hypothesized that Arab-American individuals will be more open to pursuing professional psychological help when suffering from mental symptomology (i.e. anxiety) than individuals who identified as Syrian-Arabs. In contrast, both Syrian-Arabs and Arab-Americans would definitely pursue professional help when suffering from physical symptomology (i.e. ankle sprain). Striking differences were found based on Western acculturation. Findings suggested that Arab-Americans were less inclined towards treatment and more trusting of an in-group physician ("Dr. Ahmed") whereas Syrian-Arabs were more inclined to pursue psychological treatment and preferred to trust an out-group physician ("Dr. Smith"). The results of this study identify main concerns regarding Arab attitudes towards seeking mental health treatment, which can better inform future research and mental health services for this minority.
- Paradox of Healing and Stigmatization: A Study of Mental Health Stigma in Arab Culture
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