Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Health Information Science


Health Information Science


Dr. Roma Harris


The purpose of this research project was to investigate the information landscape with respect to mental health, mental illness, and depression as it might be encountered by female Muslim immigrants in London Ontario. In the study, commonalities and differences were explored in the constructions of mental health and depression as they relate to the lives of Muslim immigrants from the perspectives of local Muslim religious leaders and in publications intended for the lay public that are produced by Canadian mental health organizations. Pamphlets concerning mental health and depression, intended for the lay public, were collected from several health and social service centres. As well, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight Muslim religious leaders about their understandings of mental health and depression, particularly as they relate to immigrants to Canada. A discourse analysis was conducted on each of the ‘texts’, the pamphlets and interview transcripts, using a pre-constructed template. Overall, the study indicates that while the pamphlets clearly reflect a primarily medicalized construction of mental illness and depression, the interviews with religious leaders conveyed a more multi-faceted understanding of these conditions. While recognizing the possible necessity for medical intervention to deal with mental health problems, the religious leaders emphasized the significance of overcoming social isolation, especially for those who are immigrants. In their construction of help or ‘treatment’ for individuals who are troubled by problems such as depression, the religious leaders emphasized the community’s responsibility, framing both the causes of and responses to mental illness within a religious discourse. The findings suggest that, as well as being a source of support to congregants, religious leaders can help to play the role of mediators, contextualizing information for mental health service providers when interacting with Muslim immigrants.