Spirituality, Identity and Belonging: Exploring Mental Well Being among the Coptic Community in the United States

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The Ohio State University

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The Coptic population is a native Egyptian Christian population representing a minority status in their country of origin and religious identification. As a minoritized Orthodox Christian population in a constitutionally Islamic state of Egypt, the Copts have endured suffering in their homeland, which in most cases, forced them to migrate from the only home they know and brought many challenges to their migration. The Coptic diaspora in the United States is a minority representative religious diaspora community, which remains hidden and largely understudied. Mental well-being remains to be a huge concern among the Coptic diaspora population in the United States. Using a quantitative online survey design, this study aimed to explore the role of spirituality, identity, and sense of belonging on the overall mental well-being among the Coptic community in the United States. The online survey used quantitative measures on spiritual experience, belonging, identity, anxiety, and depression and few open-ended questions on the meaning of mental health, Coptic identity, and issues in the Coptic community. Quantitative findings of the study (N= 171) showed high levels of spirituality and Coptic identity, challenged sense of belonging, and high levels of anxiety and depression faced among survey respondents. Qualitative findings from the open-ended questions corroborated quantitative findings and highlighted mental health as a significant problem facing the Coptic population. Three themes emerged from the qualitative data: (1) meaning of mental health; (2) Coptic community identity; and (3) issues facing Coptic community: challenged sense of identity and mental health. Findings provide implications for culturally appropriate spiritual practices and collaboration with faith-based institutions to implement targeted mental health programs. This study sheds light on the experiences of minority-representative diasporas and unravels the role of spirituality in addressing mental health issues.



Identity, Belonging, Coptic, Mental Well Being, Welcoming, Orthodox