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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Help-Seeking in Orthodox Jewish-Israelis: A Qualitative Study

  • Author(s): Silverman, Ilyssa
  • Advisor(s): Smith, Steven R.
  • et al.

This study explores the help-seeking process of English-speaking Orthodox Jews living in Jerusalem, Israel. There is a belief, backed by some research coming out of public mental health facilities in Jerusalem, that the religious community underutilizes traditional mental health resources (Rosen, Greenberg, Schmeidler & Shefler, 2008). The conclusion of the research proposes that the underutilization is likely due to stigma within the community. This study addresses the question: What is the process that Orthodox Jewish English-speaking immigrants in the Jerusalem community use to seek help in times of emotional stress? The study addresses both barriers and facilitators to resources for this community.

A qualitative, constructivist grounded theory approach was used in the collection and analysis of 26 interviews. Standards of trustworthiness as outlined by Morrow (2005) were used to ensure the rigor of the study. The result is an attachment theory-informed, nine-stage cyclical model of help-seeking as well as in-depth descriptive information about individuals' unique and culturally specific experience of the nine stages. Factors such as individuals' help-seeking filters, structural barriers (mainly transportation and cost) as well as community emphasis on privacy and therapist value-match are some of the barriers identified by participants as important in their help-seeking processes; these findings indicate a more complex explanation and understanding of why this population may not use government-funded resources. These findings also have important implications for theory, research, practice and education.

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