Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 1665–1671 | Cite as

Integration Between Mental Health-Care Providers and Traditional Spiritual Healers: Contextualising Islam in the Twenty-First Century

  • Nayeefa Chowdhury


In the United Arab Emirates, neuropsychiatric disorders are estimated to contribute to one-fifth of the global burden of disease. Studies show that the UAE citizens’ apathy towards seeking professional mental health services is associated with the ‘religious viewpoints’ on the issue, societal stigma, lack of awareness of mental health and lack of confidence in mental health-care providers. Mental health expenditures by the UAE government health ministry are not available exclusively. The majority of primary health-care doctors and nurses have not received official in-service training on mental health within the last 5 years. Efforts are to be made at deconstructing the position of mental illness and its treatments in the light of Islamic Jurisprudence; drafting culturally sensitive and relevant models of mental health care for Emirati citizens; liaising between Imams of mosques and professional mental health service providers; launching small-scale pilot programs in collaboration with specialist institutions; facilitating mentoring in line with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outreach programmes for senior school Emirati students concerning mental health; and promoting mental health awareness in the wider community through participation in events open to public.


United Arab Emirates Integrated model of mental health care Imams 


  1. Abou-Saleh, M. T., Ghubash, R., & Daradkeh, T. K. (2001). Al Ain community psychiatric survey. I. Prevalence and socio-demographic correlates. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 36(1), 20.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Al Mualla, S. (2011). Psychiatric services in Dubai (a short descriptive report). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 9(2), 219–225. doi: 10.1007/s11469-009-9252-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al-Adawi, S. A., Dorvlo, A. S., Al-Ismaily, S. S., Al-Ghafry, D. A., Al-Noobi, B. Z., Al-Salmi, A., et al. (2002). Perception of and attitude towards mental illness in Oman. International Journal Of Social Psychiatry, 48(4), 305–317.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Al-Darmaki, F. R. (2003). Attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help: What really counts for United Arab Emirates University students? Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 31(5), 497–508. doi: 10.2224/sbp.2003.31.5.4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Al-Issa, I. (2000). Does the Muslim religion make a difference in psychopathology? In I. Al-Issa (Ed.), Al-Junun: Mental illness in the Islamic world (pp. 315–353). Madison, CT: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  6. Al-Krenawi, A., & Graham, J. R. (2000). Culturally sensitive social work practice with Arab clients in mental health settings. Health & Social Work, 25(1), 9–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Al-Subaie, A., & Alhamad, A. (2000). Psychiatry in Saudi Arabia. In I. Al-Junun (Ed.), Mental illness in the Islamic world (pp. 205–233). Madison, CT: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  8. Aloud, N., & Rathur, A. (2009). Factors affecting attitudes toward seeking and using formal mental health and psychological services among arab muslim populations. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 4(2), 79–103. doi: 10.1080/15564900802487675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Amer, M. M., Hovey, J. D., Fox, C. M., & Rezcallah, A. (2008). Initial development of the brief Arab religious coping scale (BARCS). Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 3(1), 69–88. doi: 10.1080/15564900802156676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cochrane, R., & Stopes-Roe, M. (1980). Factors affecting the distribution of psychological symptoms in urban areas of England. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 61, 445–460.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Daradkeh, T. K., Ghubash, R., El-Rufaie, O. E., & Abou-Saleh, M. T. (1999). The rationale, development and reliability of a new screening psychiatric instrument. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 34(4), 223–228.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Eapen, V., & Ghubash, R. (2004). Help-seeking for mental health problems of children: Preferences and attitudes in the United Arab Emirates. Psychological Reports, 94(2), 663–667.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Eapen, V., Jakkahm, E., & Abou-Saleh, M. T. (2003). Children with psychiatric disorders: The Al Ain Community Psychiatric Survey. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48, 402–407.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Ghubach, R., El-Rufaie, O., Zoubeidi, T., Al-Shboul., Q. M., & Sabri., S. M. (2004). Profile of mental disorders among the elderly United Arab Emirates population: Sociodemographic correlates. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 19(4), 344–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ghubach, R., El-Rufaie, O., Zoubeidi, T., Sabri, S., Yousif, S., & Moselhy, H. F. (2010). Subjective life satisfaction and mental disorders among older adults in UAE in general population. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 25(5), 458–465.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hall, R., & Livingston, J. (2006). Mental health practice with Arab families: The implications of spirituality vis-à-vis Islam. American Journal of Family Therapy, 34(2), 139–150. doi: 10.1080/01926180500357883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kraya, N. (2002). Thirty years on: Psychiatric services in the United Arab Emirates. Australasian Psychiatry, 10(2), 168–171. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1665.2002.00427.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mental Health Atlas. (2011). Resources for mental health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Retrieved from
  19. O’Donnell, D. (2013). The locked ward: Memoirs of a psychiatric orderly (p. 82). London: Random House UK.Google Scholar
  20. Murad, I., & Gordon, H. (2002). Psychiatry and the Palestinian population. Psychiatric Bulletin, 26, 28–30. doi: 10.1192/pb.26.1.28.
  21. Sabry, W. M., & Vohra, A. (2013). Role of Islam in the management of psychiatric disorders. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.10553.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Sayed, M., Collins, D., & Takahashi, T. (1998). West meets East: Cross-cultural issues in inpatient treatment. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 62(4), 439–454.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Swadi, H. (1999). Child mental health services in the United Arab Emirates. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 4(1), 27–29. doi: 10.1111/1475-3588.00247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Thomas, J., Al-Qarni, N., & Furber, S. W. (2015). Conceptualising mental health in the United Arab Emirates: The perspective of traditional healers. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 18(2), 134–145. doi: 10.1080/13674676.2015.1010196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. WHO. (2001). A call for action by world health ministers. Retrieved from
  26. WHO. (2008). United Arab Emirates. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Abu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates

Personalised recommendations