Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 444–450 | Cite as

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

  • A. Smolak
  • R. E. Gearing
  • D. Alonzo
  • S. Baldwin
  • S. Harmon
  • K. McHugh
Brief Report


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 



Alex Smolak thanks Robin Gearing for his mentorship, and acknowledges that the project described was partially supported by Grant Number UL1 RR024156 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, and its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of NCRR or NIH.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Smolak
    • 1
  • R. E. Gearing
    • 1
  • D. Alonzo
    • 1
  • S. Baldwin
    • 1
  • S. Harmon
    • 1
  • K. McHugh
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia University School of Social WorkNew YorkUSA

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