Social Support and Religion: Mental Health Service Use and Treatment of Schizophrenia


The perceptions and religious beliefs held by family members, mental health and health care professionals, and the community may affect the treatment of individuals with schizophrenia. To better identify and understand the influence of families, professionals and community members on individual’s treatment for schizophrenia, this review paper examines: (1) the religious perceptions of families, professionals, and the public towards schizophrenia; (2) religious perceptions of the etiology of schizophrenia; (3) how others perceive religion as a coping mechanism; and (4) how religion influences treatment engagement and help-seeking behaviors. MEDLINE and PsycInfo databases were systematically searched from 1980 to 2010 using the terms schizophrenia, schizoaffective, schizophreniform, psychotic disorder not otherwise specified and religion, religiosity, spirituality, and faith. Forty-three (n = 43) original research studies met the inclusion criteria. This study found that religious beliefs influence the treatment of schizophrenia in the following ways: Religious themes were positively associated with coping, treatment engagement and help-seeking behavior. Evidence of religious underpinnings was found in perceptions of etiology. The findings also indicate that there is often both a preference among family members and caregivers to utilize religious-based professionals and caution toward mental health professionals. Researchers and professionals may find avenues for improving treatment through examining the interaction of religious and schizophrenia at the social support level.

Social support, Religion, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Treatment, Engagement
Copyright 2013 Community Mental Health Journal. This is a post-print version of a published paper that is available at: Recommended citation: Smolak, A., R. E. Gearing, D. Alonzo, S. Baldwin, S. Harmon, and K. McHugh. "Social support and religion: Mental health service use and treatment of schizophrenia." Community mental health journal 49, no. 4 (2013): 444-450. DOI: 10.1007/s10597-012-9536-8. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.