Hoda Shalash


Addressing Barriers to Mental Healthcare Access for Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans


Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) American individuals and communities often face barriers to accessing mental health services due to factors such as stigma and lack of resources to meet their diverse needs. Three scholarly products were written to address these barriers. A systematic literature review was conducted to collect evidence from the literature regarding the relationship between MENA communities and stigma related to mental healthcare. The identified factors contributing to barriers of accessing mental healthcare include the stigmatization of care, discrimination, and barriers that contribute to the access of mental healthcare treatment. A conceptual paper explored how increasing cultural competence in clinicians plays a crucial role in reducing mental healthcare barriers in MENA American communities. This includes increasing trust and rapport, addressing stigmas, culturally tailoring interventions, and actively engaging in collaboration with community resources. Product three is a practice application paper that explores how bridging the gap between local leaders and mental health professionals could effectively decrease stigma, increase mental health literacy, and encourage individuals to seek professional help.


Hoda Shalash holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Kentucky, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She attained her Master of Social Work from the University of Kentucky with a certificate in clinical social work and departmental honors. Throughout her tenure in the master’s program, she specialized in the integrated behavioral health cognate, achieving Summa Cum Laude distinction. Hoda is a Doctoral Candidate in Social Work at the University of Kentucky. Concurrently, she serves as a senior social worker at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Unit, where she delivers individual, group, and family therapy to children and adolescents admitted for crisis stabilization. Hoda is passionate about her commitment to fostering inclusivity and equity, as her research endeavors primarily concentrate on mental health disparities within minority communities in the U.S.. Her capstone focuses on addressing the impact of stigma within the American Middle Eastern and North African Community on accessing mental healthcare. Additionally, Hoda has contributed to scholarly publications, notably co-authoring a resource advocacy toolkit for individuals with disabilities through the UK Human Development Institute in 2018.