Religiosity and barriers to mental healthcare: a qualitative study among clients seeking community mental health services

Ora Nakash, Tal Lambez, Michal Cohen, Maayan Nagar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We explored barriers to seeking mental healthcare, as reported by religious and secular clients in community mental health clinics. We conducted in-depth interviews with 59 clients immediately following their intake session and performed thematic analyses to identify major themes. Respondents across degree of religiosity/faith reported multiple barriers, including client-based and structural barriers. Most commonly, participants reported barriers associated with previous negative experience with mental health services and mental healthcare stigma. Religious clients expressed greater distrust towards healthcare systems and were more concerned about the social stigma associated with seeking treatment. Importantly, different models of treatment and healing emerged among secular and religious participants. Secular clients highlighted the importance of internal processes within the self, while religious clients highlighted the belief in a higher healing entity. Our findings highlight the significance of addressing client expectations in service delivery, attending to referral paths and improving accessibility and availability of affordable services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-452
Number of pages16
JournalMental Health, Religion and Culture
Issue number5
StatePublished - 28 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Israel
  • Religiosity
  • barriers
  • mental health services
  • stigma
  • treatment gap
  • treatment lag


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