Benjamin A. Herzig, PsyD, is a 2011 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England.

Dissertation Committee

  • Gargi Roysircar, EdD (Committee Chair)
  • Mona Amer, PhD (Committee Member)
  • David Hamolsky, PsyD (Committee Member)


Muslims, help-seeking, religiousness, religious coping, college students

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Despite American Muslims’ growing numbers in the United States, their frequent encounters with prejudice, and their increased self-reports of emotional stress, little research has been geared toward understanding American Muslims’ attitudes toward mental health, specifically those born and raised in the United States. On the basis of current demographic trends, it is reasonable to suggest that American-born Muslims represent the future of Islam in the United States. This study examined the mental health attitudes of American-born Muslim college students (N = 184). A primarily quantitative survey approach was employed to address several research hypotheses and questions on the topic of young adult American Muslims’ attitudes toward mental health. Additional comments by participants to an open-ended survey question richly described how some of the study’s foci manifest themselves in real life situations. Participants indicated the presence in their community of concerning levels of depression, anxiety, social pressures, stress, and family conflict. Participants reported flexible general coping strategies and positive reactions to seeking professional mental health treatment. While religiousness was strongly associated with religious coping, neither was correlated with help-seeking attitudes; perhaps the process of seeking external help is different from seeking guidance from within the meanings of one’s faith. Therefore, even highly religious Muslims in the survey who were apt to utilize religious coping strategies were just as willing to seek professional help as young adult American Muslims who were less religious, and this finding held true for both men and women. A preference was expressed for individual therapy above all other treatment modalities. The professional characteristics most desired in treatment providers were multicultural competence and an understanding of developmental issues associated with young adulthood. Participants expressed concerns about the perceived lack of multicultural competence in the mental health field and the lack of Muslim treatment providers. It is hoped that this study’s results will provide mental health practitioners and other stakeholders, such as community leaders and policy makers, with a strong understanding of the beliefs and needs of American-born Muslims with regard to mental health care.