On the Intersection of Faith Background and Mental Health Beliefs: What MSW Students Learned About Themselves

Main Article Content

Jennifer Shephard Payne


Keywords: mental health, students, faith, beliefs, clinical social work


Students enter college with pre-formed beliefs about the causes of mental health issues, from spiritual explanations (e.g., demonic possession) to biological explanations (e.g., genetics). However, they rarely have thought through how their faith backgrounds influence their beliefs about mental health. MSW students in their clinical concentration year engaged in a class-based assignment in which they explored the question, "Where are you on the spectrum of belief regarding the cause of mental illness?" A qualitative content analysis was completed on 69 student papers collected over five years. Results showed how each student's religious childhood experience shaped his or her view about mental illness causes.

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