Objectives: To examine the role of religious advisors in mental health care (MHC) according to disorder severity, socio-demographics, religious involvement and country income groups. Methods: Face to face household surveys in ten high income (HI), six upper-middle income (UMI) and five low/lower-middle (LLMI) income countries totalling 101,258 adults interviewed with the WMH CIDI plus questions on use of care for mental health problems and religiosity. Results: 1.1% of participants turned to religious providers for MHC in the past year. Among those using services, 12.3% used religious services; as much as 30% in some LLMI countries, around 20% in some UMI; in the HI income countries USA, Germany, Italy and Japan are between 15 and 10% whenever the remaining countries are much lower. In LLMI 20.9% used religious advisors for the most severe mental disorders compared to 12.3 in UMI and 9.5% in HI. For severe cases most of religious providers use occurred together with formal care except in Nigeria, Iraq and Ukraine where, respectively, 41.6, 25.7 and 17.7% of such services are outside any formal care. Frequency of attendance at religious services was a strong predictor of religious provider usage OR 6.5 for those who attended over once a week (p < 0.0001); as seeking comfort “often” through religion in case of difficulties OR was 3.6 (p = 0.004) while gender and individual income did not predict use of religious advisors nor did the type of religious affiliation; in contrast young people use them more as well as divorced and widowed OR 1.4 (p = 0.02). Some country differences persisted after controlling for all these factors. Conclusions: Religious advisors play an important role in mental health care and require appropriate training and collaboration with formal mental healthcare systems. Religious attitudes are strong predictors of religious advisors usage.
- Mental health
- Services use