Bio

Bio


Rania Awaad, M.D., is a practicing Psychiatrist based at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She is a Clinical Instructor in the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and pursues her clinical practice through the department's community psychiatry track. She is also a researcher and the Director of the Stanford Muslims and Mental Health Lab where she mentors and oversees multiple lines of research focused on Muslim mental health. She completed her psychiatric residency training at Stanford Hospital and Clinics where she also pursued a postdoctoral clinical research fellowship with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Her research and clinical work are focused on the mental health needs of Muslims. She has been the recipient of several awards and grants for her work.

Through community partnerships established by the Stanford Department of Psychiatry, she is currently the Psychiatric Director of the El Camino Women's Medical Group (Mountain View and San Jose) where she pursues her interest in women's mental health. Additionally, through another community partnership with the Stanford Department of Psychiatry, she serves as the Clinical Director of the Bay Area branch of the Khalil Center (Santa Clara), a spiritual wellness center pioneering the application of traditional Islamic spiritual healing methods to modern clinical psychology.

Dr. Awaad also has an interest in refugee mental health and has traveled to Amman, Jordan multiple times with the Care Program for Refugees (CPR) sponsored by Al-Alusi Foundation, a local non-profit organization. She has worked on developing and presenting a "train the trainers" curriculum to aid workers and therapists in Amman working with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Dr. Awaad is passionate about community mental health and lectures widely nationally and internationally, particularly in communities where mental health is highly stigmatized. Recently, she was invited by President Obama to present her work on Muslim Mental Health at a convening at the Department of Health in DC. Dr. Awaad received this invitation as a leader who is nationally recognized for her work on the mental health needs of Muslim populations.

Locally, she hosts a monthly meeting at Stanford for Bay Area Muslim Mental Health Professionals (BAMMHP) that facilities mentorship and networking opportunities for mental health professionals, paraprofessionals and students interested in working with the Muslim population. Her other interests include psycho-spiritual well-being and interfaith work as it relates to mental health. In this vein, Dr. Awaad co-teaches a course to Stanford Psychiatry residents entitled, "Culture and Religion in Psychiatry."

Prior to studying medicine, Dr. Awaad pursued classical Islamic Studies in Damascus, Syria and holds certification (Ijaza) in Qur’an, Islamic Law and other branches of the Islamic Sciences. She is a Professor of Islamic Law at Zaytuna College, an American Muslim Liberal Arts College in Berkeley, CA. In addition, she serves as the Director of The Rahmah Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Muslim women and girls.

Clinical Focus


  • Psychiatry
  • Cultural Psychiatry
  • Women's Mental Health
  • Muslim Mental Health
  • Refugee Mental Health

Academic Appointments


  • Clinical Instructor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Administrative Appointments


  • Director, Stanford Muslims and Mental Health Lab (2014 - Present)
  • Psychiatric Director, El Camino Women's Medical Group (2015 - Present)
  • Clinical Director, Khalil Center- Bay Area (2015 - Present)

Honors & Awards


  • APA/SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Award, American Psychiatric Association/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2011-2013)
  • Arnold P. Gold Foundation Award for Humanism and Excellence in Teaching, Arnold P. Gold Foundation (2011)
  • Young Investigators Award, American Psychiatric Association (2009)
  • Minorities in Mental Health APA Travel Scholarship, American Psychiatric Association (2008-2009)
  • Program for Minority Research Training in Psychiatry National Research Service Award (NRSA), American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education and NIMH (2008-2009)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Founder and Member, Community Advisory Board on Muslim Mental Health (2016 - Present)
  • Fellow, Stanford Center of Global Innovation in Global Health (2015 - Present)
  • Reviewer, Journal of Muslim Mental Health (2015 - Present)
  • Advisor and Host, Bay Area Muslim Mental Health Professionals (2014 - Present)
  • Education Committee Member, Society for the Study of Cultural Psychiatry (2014 - Present)
  • Reviewer, Journal of Academic Psychiatry (2014 - Present)
  • Admissions Committee Member, Zaytuna College (2013 - Present)
  • Member, Stanford Community Mental Health Committee (2013 - Present)
  • Member, APA Council of Healthcare Systems and Financing (2011 - 2013)
  • Member, California Psychiatric Society (2010 - Present)
  • Member, Stanford Society for Physician Scholars (2010 - Present)
  • Founding Director, The Rahmah Foundation (2008 - Present)
  • Member, American Psychiatric Association (2008 - Present)
  • Member, Physicians for Human Rights (2005 - Present)
  • Member, Phi Rho Sigma Medical Society (2005 - Present)

Professional Education


  • Fellowship, Stanford University School of Medicine, T32 NIMH Clinical Research Fellowship (2014)
  • Residency:Stanford Hospital and Clinics (2014) CA
  • Medical Education:Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (2009) OH

Community and International Work


  • Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) with American Muslim Community

    Partnering Organization(s)

    Muslim Community Association (MCA)

    Populations Served

    Bay Area Muslim community

    Location

    Bay Area

    Ongoing Project

    Yes

    Opportunities for Student Involvement

    Yes

  • Capacity Building Pilot Project, Sacramento Muslim Community

    Partnering Organization(s)

    Muslim American Society-Social Services Foundation (MAS-SSF)

    Populations Served

    Muslim Community

    Location

    California

    Ongoing Project

    Yes

    Opportunities for Student Involvement

    Yes

  • Bay Area Muslim Mental Health Professionals

    Partnering Organization(s)

    BAMMHP

    Ongoing Project

    Yes

    Opportunities for Student Involvement

    Yes

  • Mental Health Emergency response team

    Partnering Organization(s)

    BAMMHP

    Populations Served

    Muslim Community

    Location

    Bay Area

    Ongoing Project

    Yes

    Opportunities for Student Involvement

    No

  • The Khalil Center

    Populations Served

    Muslim Community

    Location

    Bay Area

    Ongoing Project

    Yes

    Opportunities for Student Involvement

    Yes

  • El Camino Women's Medical Group

    Populations Served

    Women

    Location

    Bay Area

    Ongoing Project

    Yes

    Opportunities for Student Involvement

    No

  • Train the Trainers Curriculum Refugee Mental Health

    Partnering Organization(s)

    Al-Alusi Foundation

    Populations Served

    Refugees

    Location

    International

    Ongoing Project

    Yes

    Opportunities for Student Involvement

    Yes

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


As the Director of the Muslims and Mental Health Lab, Dr. Awaad is dedicated to creating an academic home for the study of mental health as it relates to the Islamic faith and Muslim populations. The lab aims to provide the intellectual resources to clinicians, researchers, trainees, educators, community and religious leaders working with or studying Muslims.

Current lines of research include:
- Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) with American Muslim Community
- Historical representations of Mental Health in the Muslim world
- Psychometric Scales Specific to Muslims
- Islamic Framework for Mental Health
- Social Justice and Muslim Mental Health
- International and Refugee Mental Health
- Resources for Muslim Mental Health Researchers (Resource Information Networks)

Publications

All Publications


  • A modern conceptualization of phobia in al-Balkhi's 9th century treatise: Sustenance of the Body and Soul JOURNAL OF ANXIETY DISORDERS Awaad, R., Ali, S. 2016; 37: 89-93

    Abstract

    Morbid fears and phobias have been mentioned in religious, philosophical and medical manuscripts since ancient times. Despite early insights by the Greeks, phobias did not appear as a separate clinical phenomenon in Western medicine until the 17th century and has evolved substantially since. However, robust investigations attempting to decipher the clinical nature of phobias emerged in pre-modern times during the oft-overlooked Islamic Golden Era (9th-12th centuries); which overlapped with Europe's medieval period. An innovative attempt was made by the 9th century Muslim scholar, Abu Zayd al-Balkhi, in his medical manuscript "Sustenance of the Body and Soul," to define phobias as a separate diagnostic entity. Al-Balkhi was one of the earliest to cluster psychological and physical symptoms of phobias under one category, "al-Fazaá", and outline a specific management plan. We analyze al-Balkhi's description of phobias, according to the modern understanding of psychiatric classifications and symptomatology as described in the DSM-5.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.janxdis.2015.11.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000368969800011

    View details for PubMedID 26741063

  • A Process-Oriented Approach to Teaching Religion and Spirituality in Psychiatry Residency Training ACADEMIC PSYCHIATRY Awaad, R., Ali, S., Salvador, M., Bandstra, B. 2015; 39 (6): 654-660

    Abstract

    Although the importance of addressing issues of spirituality and religion is increasingly acknowledged within psychiatry training, many questions remain about how to best teach relevant knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Current literature on curricula highlights the importance of maintaining a clinical focus and the balance between didactic content and process issues. The authors present findings from a program evaluation study of a course on religion, spirituality, and psychiatry that deliberately takes a primarily process-oriented, clinically focused approach.Two six-session courses were offered. The first course targeted fourth-year psychiatry residents and the second targeted third-year psychiatry residents. Teaching sessions consisted of brief didactics combined with extensive process-oriented discussion. A two-person faculty team facilitated the courses. Clinical case discussions were integrated throughout the curriculum. A panel of chaplains was invited to participate in one session of each course to discuss the interface between spiritual counsel and psychiatry. A modified version of the Course Impact Questionnaire, a 20-item Likert scale utilized in previous studies of spirituality curricula in psychiatry, assessed residents' personal spiritual attitudes, competency, change in professional practice, and change in professional attitudes before and after the course (N = 20). Qualitative feedback was also elicited through written comments.The results from this study showed a statistically significant difference between the pre- and post-test scale for residents' self-perceived competency and change in professional practice.The findings suggest improvement in competency and professional practice scores in residents who participated in this course. This points toward the overall usefulness of the course and suggests that a process-oriented approach may be effective for discussing religion and spirituality in psychiatric training.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s40596-014-0256-y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000365868600010

    View details for PubMedID 25510222

  • Obsessional Disorders in al-Balkhi's 9th century treatise: Sustenance of the Body and Soul JOURNAL OF AFFECTIVE DISORDERS Awaad, R., Ali, S. 2015; 180: 185-189

    Abstract

    Some argue that the earliest case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was reported by Robert Burton in his compendium The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) and that only in the 19th century did modern concepts of OCD evolve, differentiating it from other types of mental illness. In this paper, we aim to reveal an even earlier presentation of the malady we now call OCD based on the 9th century work, Sustenance of the Body and Soul, written by Abu Zayd al-Balkhi during the Islamic Golden Era. Discovery of this manuscript reveals that Abu Zayd al-Balkhi should be credited with differentiating OCD from other forms of mental illnesses nearly a millennium earlier than is currently claimed by anthologies documenting the history of mental illness. Particular attention is paid to al-Balkhi's classifications, symptom descriptions, predisposing factors, and the treatment modalities for obsessional disorders. Analysis of this manuscript in light of the DSM-5 and modern scientific discoveries reveals transcultural diagnostic consistency of OCD across many centuries. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are also discussed.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jad.2015.03.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000354607700027

    View details for PubMedID 25911133