Muslims and Mental Health Lab
Division of Public Mental Health & Populations Sciences
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine
The Muslims and Mental Health Lab is dedicated to creating an academic home for the study of mental health as it relates to the Islamic faith and Muslim populations. The lab aims to provide the intellectual resources to clinicians, researchers, trainees, educators, community and religious leaders working with or studying Muslims.
In line with mission of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the Muslims and Mental Health Research Lab is comprised of five branches:
Advancing Science and Research
Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) with American Muslim Community
In partnership with the Muslim Community Association (MCA), the largest Muslim community center in the Bay Area, the SMMH lab was awarded a 2016 pilot grant from the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education (Spectrum). The overall goal of this study is to develop a community based model that facilitates utilization of formal mental health services among religiously observant American Muslims in the Bay Area. The grant helps achieve this goal by supporting an emerging a community-university partnership between the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and the Muslim Community Association.
Historical representations of Mental Health in the Muslim world
This unique line of research has reviewed and synthesized over 115 medical manuscripts/treatises from the 6th-12th Century Islamic world in order to determine how mental illnesses were perceived, classified, diagnosed and treated by physicians and scholars during the Islamic Golden Era. Several publications have resulted from this line that are listed under our publications section below.
Psychometric Scales Specific to Muslims
The goal of this line of research is to fill the void in the literature for mental health scales that are specifically designed for Muslims. Current scales are either too generic to gauge Muslim belief and practice or are designed for other faiths and are not applicable to Muslims.
- M-PAMH: Muslim Perceptions and Attitudes towards Mental Health Scale. The lab has conducted the largest study to date on American Muslim women (1,299 participants) by testing their perceptions and attitudes towards mental illnesses and treatments. The M-PAMH scale was tested on these participants and has now been validated.
- Other scales developed by the lab include: acculturation, religiosity and competency in dealing with Muslim patients.
Islamic Framework for Mental Health
The goal of this line of research is to develop an Islamic framework from which to treat mental illness. The lab has completed over 30 book summaries of classical and modern texts on the Islamic understanding of the psyche. This information can help provide the foundation from which to develop modalities for psychotherapy that adhere to Islamic ideologies and are congruent with the Islamic belief system. In collaboration with colleagues from the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Oxford University, the lab has partnered on a study about the evolution of the field of Islamic Psychology.
Social Justice and Muslim Mental Health
In collaboration with colleagues from Saint Louis University, the lab has partnered on a Chapel Hill Distress screening study to assess discrimination and stress felt by American Muslims in the aftermath of a targeted hate crime towards Muslim members of the Chapel Hill community that took place in February 2015. Other studies are also being conducted that evaluate the psychological effects of discrimination, Muslim identity and self-confidence.
There are 4 projects currently underway in this line of research. In collaboration with colleagues from CPR-Alalusi Foundation, the first is a “train the trainers” curriculum for clinicians working with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan. In collaboration with the Stanford Human Rights in Trauma in Mental Health Lab, the second is a humanitarian parole project for gender-based violence in refugee camps. In collaboration with PCRF, Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, the third is a trauma needs assessment among children in Gaza after the 2015 war. In collaboration with colleagues from the Islamic Association of Social and Educational Professions in Germany, the forth is a project that analyzes German, French and English publications and intuitions that serve the mental health of Muslims in Europe.
Resources for MMH Researchers (Resource Information Networks)
The lab is developing a comprehensive database on articles published on MMH research to provide a reference for researchers interested in the field.
In collaboration with colleagues from Yale University, the lab has partnered on a Social Network Analysis study that aims to highlight collaborations between researchers studying MMH. The goal of this study is twofold: 1) to identify gaps in MMH research and 2) provide researchers interested in MMH the ability to find and collaborate with other researchers who have similar research interests as themselves.
Research-Based Assessments and Evaluations:
The lab conducts culturally and religiously sensitive evaluations for mental health trainings, workshops and lectures. Evaluations conducted include: “Qualitative Assessment of Trauma Informed Congregations Training” delivered by the US Department of Health and Human Services and qualitative evaluations of didactics hosted by the lab at the monthly Bay Area Muslim Mental Health Professionals meetings.
Education and Training
Stanford Psychiatry Residents
Dr. Rania Awaad co-teaches a course on “Culture and Religion in Psychiatry” to psychiatry residents in training at Stanford University. This course was evaluated using qualitative and quantitative approaches (please see publication below). This course was also presented as a workshop at the 2014 American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training, AADPRT in Tuscon, AZ,, the 2016 Conference on Medicine and Religion in Houston, TX, and in 2016 at the 1st International Congress on Spiritual Counseling in Istanbul, Turkey. The course was featured in the APA's Psychiatric News Feb 2015. “Learning About Spirituality Improves Competency”.
Graduate and Undergraduates
Dr. Awaad also teaches seminars on mental health awareness and wellbeing to Stanford graduate and undergraduate students in collaboration with the Office of Religious Life, the Markaz Muslim Cultural Resource Center, and the Muslim Student Union.
The lab also provides mentorship to graduate and undergraduate students interested in MMH research to help develop their own research projects and guidance on honor thesis or dissertations.
Interdisciplinary Mental Health Clinicians and Trainees
The lab hosts and helped develop a monthly meeting at Stanford entitled: the Bay Area Muslim Mental Health Professionals Meeting. This meeting has drawn mental health professionals and trainees from all over the Bay Area. Since its inception, this network of Muslim Bay Area mental health professionals has grown from a handful to over 100 interdisciplinary MH providers and trainees. The monthly meeting facilitates networking, peer support, and mentorship opportunities for those interested in MMH. The lab also helps organize the monthly didactic sessions and competency pre/post evaluations for these monthly trainings.
The lab also organized a local Mental Health Emergency response team made up of several therapists who donate their time for emergency consultations when the local Muslim community faces a crisis. Examples of emergency response efforts have been in the aftermath of the Chapel Hill, UC Merced, San Jose Shootings and Santa Cruz drownings.
In line with the department's mission of building and establishing evidence-driven models of clinical care for minority populations, the lab has developed a clinical partnership with the Khalil Center, The Bay Area branch of the Khalil Center works to address the clinical needs of local Muslim populations using faith-based approaches rooted in Islamic theological concepts, while integrating the science of psychology towards addressing psychological, spiritual and communal health. Dr. Awaad teaches Khalil Center interns and trainees and provides leadership, vision, and capacity building through her role as the Khalil Center's Clinical Director.
Dr. Awaad also provides clinical care for patients at the El Camino Women's Medical Group (ECWMG) in Mountain View. The focus of her clinical work at ECWMG is mental health care for Muslim women.
Community Engagement and Partnerships
Muslim American Society- Social Services Foundation (MAS-SSF): www.mas-ssf-sac.org
Muslim American Society-Social Services Foundation (MAS-SSF) is a non-profit based in Sacramento, CA that aims to aid families at large and the Muslim community in particular with their culturally sensitive social and mental health services needs. The lab has assisted them in applying for and successfully receiving a Capacity Building Pilot Project grant that is offered by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP). This grant will provide technical assistance to MAS-SSF to further develop their infrastructure and improve their ability to apply to larger state or federal grants. Later, the lab's role will be to evaluate the efficiency and the impact of their community based mental health practices.
The Muslim Community Association of Santa Clara: www.mcabayarea.org
Established in 1981, the MCA is a religious non-profit organization with the mission to provide spiritual, educational, and recreational and social services for the Silicon Valley and surrounding Bay Area Muslim community. The MCA has grown several folds in the past 35 years; serving a congregation of over 10,000 people making it the largest Islamic center in the United States. Through its affiliation with the Khalil Center, housed onsite at the MCA, the lab offers quarterly workshops on mental wellbeing for the Bay Area community. Additionally, the lab was awarded a SPECTRUM grant for CBPR research project with the MCA as its community partner.
The Khalil Center- Bay Area: www.khalilcenter.com
Khalil Center is a social and spiritual community wellness center designed to address the widespread prevalence of social, psychological, familial, relational and spiritual issues of Muslim communities. Khalil Center’s approach emphasizes: psychological reconstruction, behavioral reformation and spiritual elevation. The first Bay Area site is on the grounds of the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara, CA. The Khalil Center is a community partner of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
El Camino Women's Medical Group: www.elcaminowomen.com
El Camino Women's Medical group provides comprehensive women's health care in Mountain View and San Jose. It is the largest OB/GYN practice that caters to the Muslim community. It is a community partner with the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences to offer women's mental health care to the diverse populations it serves.
Professionalism and Leadership
By invitation of President Obama and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, Dr. Rania Awaad represented the Stanford Muslims and Mental Health Lab at a convening at the Department of Health in DC to discuss matters relating to Muslim Mental Health (MMH) on April 20th, 2016. Dr. Awaad received this invitation as a leader who is nationally recognized for her work on the mental health needs of Muslim populations.
Presentations and Publications
People in the Lab
Rania Awaad, MD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University, School of Medicine