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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Examination of disparity in accessing counselling services for Muslim men : an audit study Outadi, Ava


Since the events of September 11th 2001, Muslims have been under increased scrutiny experiencing discrimination, prejudice, and hate crimes. The consequences of this day have had a negative affect on Muslims and their communities’ mental health, making it imperative to ensure Muslims are able to access mental health professionals when needed. However, contemporary counselling and psychotherapy are still criticized for being Eurocentric, and research has shown that disparities in mental health services based on sociocultural variables have continued to persist. It has been noted that religion is an area that has not received much attention in the literature on mental health service disparities leading to a dearth in knowledge on how Eurocentric approaches impact Muslim clients. It is this broader context that highlights the pressing need to investigate the possibility of religious disparities and implicit bias in access to mental health services for Muslims. The goal of this study was to examine if there is possible implicit bias by counsellors and psychologists against Muslims who access counselling and psychotherapy services. An audit methodology utilizing emails examined the effects of clients’ perceived religion on counsellors and psychologists in Greater Vancouver in their openness to provide services. A total of 470 practitioners received an email either from a Muslim male or non-Muslim male potential client, requesting an appointment. The main analyses showed that perceived religion was not a statistically significant predictor of whether a response is received nor how receptive a practitioner will be. Exploratory analyses showed that perceived religion was associated with how long it takes practitioners to respond, with the Muslim man receiving statistically significant quicker responses, compared to the non-Muslim man. This study was the first Canadian study examining mental health services disparities using an audit methodology, as well as the first North American study examining mental health services disparities based on religion, which can help inform future research in this area.

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