Mental Health Care Use Among the Most Religious Jews and Muslims in Israel: Opportunities for Faith-Based Interventions?

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ephraim SHAPIRO, Ariel University, Israel, Columbia, USA
Irit ELROY, Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, Israel
Background: Involvement in a religious community can affect its members   in many ways beyond religious ones, including health-related impacts. The most traditionally religious segments of Israeli society, including both Jews and Muslims, have distinctive attitudes, behaviors and demographics, all of which can impact appropriate use of mental health services. Israel recently implemented mental healthcare system policy reform, with uncertain impact on utilization among subgroups. Prior research found some underutilization among the most religious Israelis despite universal health insurance yet the topic has been understudied.

Research Questions: 1) To what extent do Haredi/ultraorthodox Jews and traditional Arab Muslims in Israel seek and/or receive mental healthcare? 2) Do results vary by key subgroups including religion and socioeconomic status?  3) What faith-based interventions can potentially be developed to increase use of needed mental health services among these religious groups?

Methodology/Results: This is a mixed methods study. A random-sample survey of all Israelis conducted in 2013 was analyzed. Outcomes included mental healthcare utilization measures and attitudinal measures related to potential barriers. Religious group was categorized by self-report. Univariate and bivariate analyses were performed using health, religious, and socioeconomic factors. Chi-square statistics were produced. Over 2000 Israelis were surveyed including 275 Haredi/ultraorthodox  Jews and 200 traditional Muslims.  Barriers such as stigma, lack of information  and inadequate referrals were identified.  Variations were found by religious and socioeconomic subgroups.  Key informant interviews with 20 religious, community and medical leaders were conducted and analyzed. Faith-based intervention opportunities  to help overcome these barriers were identified.

Conclusions: Opportunities exist to leverage social and religious capital in faith-based organizations-to improve the health of their communities and reduce inequalities. Culturally-sensitive interventions can be developed to increase appropriate mental healthcare system utilization for religious Israelis. This issue is particularly timely after mental health reform when exist opportunities to change relevant attitudes and behaviors.