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Religion and Mental Health Stigma

Suzanne Duval defines stigma and explains why mental health problems might be interpreted as spiritual problems in religious communities

Suzanne Duval, BEM defines stigma and explains why mental health problems might be interpreted as spiritual problems in religious communities. Due to stigma, recognising mental health problems as spiritual illness may be more socially acceptable than admitting to having mental health problems.

Suzanne is the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Mental Health and Dementia Manager (Policy) at Diverse Cymru. Diverse Cymru is a mental health charity for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups based in Cardiff, Wales.

Understanding mental health problems as spiritual illness can lead to people not seeking medical support, and relying on religious practitioners to address the perceived spiritual problems instead.

Suzanne suggests that where practitioners hold fixed and negative views about particular spiritual beliefs and practices, this can reduce the likelihood of Muslims to seeking mental health support. Instead, Suzanne recommends that practitioners seek to form an understanding of these beliefs and their impacts on the lives of the people they are supporting to address their mental health problems. You have already been introduced to core religious beliefs and practices for Muslims. Later in Week 2 we will take a closer look at the mental health implications of some beliefs and practices.

Signposting

Suzanne recommends ‘Feeling Stressed – Advice for Muslims Leaflet’ by the Community Access Support Service as a resource that appropriately and sensitively acknowledges religious and spiritual beliefs.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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