Session: Emerging Topics in Social Work and Research with Muslims (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

203 Emerging Topics in Social Work and Research with Muslims

Saturday, January 15, 2022: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marquis BR Salon 9, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees
Erum Agha, PhD, MSW, LCSW, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Altaf Husain, PhD, Howard University, Tarek Zidan, PhD, Indiana University South Bend, Olubunmi Oyewuwo, PhD, Northeastern Illinois University and Anderson Al Wazni, MSW, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The United States is home to more than 3.5 million Muslims belonging to diverse cultural backgrounds. More than 75% of these Muslims are immigrants or children of immigrants; the remaining 25% Muslims are born in the United States to parents who were also US born. For self-identifying Muslims, faith plays a critical role in their understanding of illness/ health and life altering circumstances. Therefore, Muslim clients are less likely to seek help for their bio-psycho-social health needs because help-seeking remains stigmatized within the Muslim community. In addition, the rise of Islamophobia, hate crimes and discrimination at work or schools further deters those needing help from seeking it because they may not wish out of fear, to identify publicly as a Muslim. Furthermore, the migration trajectory of refugees and immigrants can have a distinct impact on their mental health. Additionally, public health systems in most countries of origin of Muslim immigrants are vastly different from the healthcare system in the US. Differences in education, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, health/mental health literacy further impact their ability to understand their own needs in the context of life in the US. The outcomes of unidentified and unmet bio-psycho-social health needs for refugees and immigrants have serious implications, and outcomes are worse for those who are responsible for child rearing or providing financially for thier families. Perceived respect and understanding about the client’s culture, beliefs and challenges of transition to a new country have been linked with increased health service utilization among immigrant and refugee populations. However, given that talking help seeking, specifically that related to domestic violence, disabilities, caring for aging parents or mental illnesses is a taboo in many Muslim societies, there is a need to facilitate a dialogue with and within Muslim communities in order to promote health literacy, destigmatize help seeking and encourage service utilization. This roundtable session will provide an opportunity for social work educators and researchers with an interest in teaching about and conducting research with Muslims, to engage in a dialog with their social work colleagues who self-identify as Muslims. Each of the presenters will offer personal and professional insights into the diverse Muslim immigrant and refugee cultures, beliefs, and barriers to seeking help. Applying the intersectionality framework and centering the core cultural values and belief systems that prevail in Muslim communities, presenters will discuss strategies and best practices to empower refugee and immigrant clients to discuss health needs with their community leaders and service providers. Our goal is to stimulate an interactive discussion that will deliver insight into Muslim culture-specific research and practice as a means for expanding the current state of knowledge to ultimately better serve and meet the needs of clients who self-identify as Muslims. Next steps will target creating inclusive practices and informed service providers to better engage Muslim clients in a dialogue about mental health needs, treatment engagement, monitoring and management. Our ultimate goal is policy level changes that are inclusive of and sensitive to Muslim refugee and immigrant population of the US.
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