The Role of Religious Practice and Religious Coping in Protecting Children’s Mental Health after Controlling for Parental and Community Factors

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Saudi Digital Library
Background: Recent years have seen an increasing interest in understanding the protective factors for children’s mental health, particularly by capturing children’s voices. However, there has been limited research on the role of religious practice and religious coping in relation to child mental health, especially in Muslim countries. Methods: This study aimed to establish the role of religious practice and religious coping in protecting children’s mental health, in conjunction with family and community factors, among children living in disadvantaged areas (urban and rural) of Saudi Arabia. A cross- sectional design involved 451 children aged 12-16 years and 291 of their parents. Children completed questionnaires on their mental health problems (SDQ), perceived parenting style (PAQ), perceived attachment relationship (ASS), and social supports (MSPSS). Parents rated their rearing style (PDI-S), attachment relationship (RPQ), and children’s mental health problems (SDQ). Furthermore, both children and parents rated their religious practice (DUREL) and religious coping (RECOPE). Results: Overall, 23.5% of children scored within the clinically significant range that indicated likely mental health problems. Being female and living in urban areas increased the likelihood of developing mental health problems. Positive parenting styles (authoritative and nurturing), attachment security (especially to father) and family supports predicted positive mental health, after controlling for demographic factors. Both child- and parent- rated positive religious coping and religious practice (especially child-rated intrinsic religiosity) were established as protective factors. Conclusion: The findings highlight the importance of integrating religious practice and coping strategies with other protective factors when designing, implementing and evaluating preventive and responsive psychosocial interventions. These findings also indicate the importance of establishing children’s views in designing interventions and research.