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Contrasting Islamic and Western Frameworks of Mental Health

Dr Yusuf draws out the differences between Western and Islamic conceptualisations of mental health

In this step, Dr Yusuf draws out the differences between Western and Islamic conceptualisations of mental health, outlining the advantages and some disadvantages of each approach when supporting Muslims with mental health problems.

The core difference between the two conceptualisatons is that people who practice a religion, or who hold other spiritual beliefs, do not see themselves in isolation from God or a Divine presence (vertical relationship), and their religious or spiritual community (horizontal relationships). In contrast, the Western model of mental health is individual-centred and can be seen as Eurocentric (focusing on European culture to the exclusion of a wider view of the world).

Dr Yusuf suggests that an approach that recognises how Muslims might understand themselves, and their experiences, in the context of their relationship with God (man-qua-God) might be more appropriate.

The Western (or mainstream) model of mental health is supported by a well-developed evidence base, which is grounded in decades of research and practice. The mainstream model is systematic, easily available, tied into mainstream health service provision and, importantly, quality controlled with established systems of training and supervision.

Mental health support from an Islamic framework is not systematically available in Britain and variations in approach and quality of support can affect the standard of professional care. Systems of training and quality assurance for practitioners who provide mental health support from an Islamic framework are currently in a developmental phase in Britain.

Over to you

You may work primarily as a religious or mainstream practitioner. Think of a question you would like to ask a practitioner who works from an alternative perspective. Your question might be around systems of supervision or training, or how others overcome barriers or constraints.

For example, if you are an imam, what more would you like to know about ways of working in mainstream mental health support? Or, if you are a mental health nurse, what would you ask someone who provides mental health support in a religious setting?

Share your question below. Look at others’ questions and see if you can have a go at answering any.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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