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Introduction to Week 3

Introduction to Week 3 by Dr Asma Khan

Welcome to Week 3. This week you will take a closer look at five common mental health problems, to consider how they are understood from an Islamic perspective, how Muslims might experience them in distinctive ways and how an Islamically-informed approach to support might be beneficial.

In Week 1, you gained a contextual understanding of Muslim experiences of mental health in minority contexts and identified some of the distinctive ways in which Muslims experience and understand mental health problems.

In Week 2, keeping contextual factors in mind, you further developed your understanding of some of the particular barriers Muslims face in relation to their mental health, focusing on stigma and Islamophobia. You were introduced to how mental health is conceptualised in Islam and considered the differences between Western (or secular) and Islamic frameworks for understanding mental health. You explored in more detail how particular Islamic practices and beliefs can impact directly on mental health, in positive and negative ways.

You are now familiar with the bio-psycho-socio-spiritual framework for understanding Muslim mental health. Dr Yusuf has explained that through a more detailed understanding of the importance of mental health in Islam, and an awareness of the impact of religious beliefs and practices on Muslim mental health, practitioners can work within this framework to provide more appropriate mental health support for Muslims.

You have considered three approaches to Islamically-inclusive mental health support practice: Islamically-sensitive; Islamically-informed; and Islamic Psychotherapy, and heard first-hand from expert practitioners how these approaches are put into practice.

In Week 3, you will take a closer look at five common mental health problems, these are: depression; OCD; dementia; addiction and psychosis. Each mental health is taken as an example to demonstrate how it might be experienced distinctively by Muslims, and how an Islamically-inclusive approach to mental health support might be particularly meaningful and, therefore, effective.

Practitioners who come across people with mental health problems in their day-to-day work, but do not necessarily receive formal training in providing mental health support, told us that they needed clear explanations of mental health problems. These practitioners included police officers, youth workers, social workers, and imams. They asked for information on how to recognise symptoms, where to signpost people for further support, and information on how these problems are diagnosed and treated.

In response to this, we are joined by Dr Athanasios Hassoulas this week. Dr Hassoulas is Senior Lecturer in Psychological Medicine and Director of the MSc in Psychiatry programme at Cardiff University. Dr Hassoulas provides a comprehensive overview of each mental health problem from the perspective of mainstream mental health practice. You will find a link to access and download the PowerPoint slides that accompany Dr Hassoulas’ explanation for each mental health problem to keep as a resource for your own reference.

After this ‘mainstream’ explanation of each mental health problem, you will learn how it is recognised and experienced from a religious perspective through written articles, videos, and case studies that include lived experience accounts. You will gain an understanding of the ways in which an Islamically-inclusive approach can benefit Muslims who experience mental health problems. The approaches most often used are Islamically-informed or Islamically-sensitive mental health, Islamically-indigenous approaches like Islamic Psychology are, currently, less common.

You will find ‘over to you’ discussion points towards the end of some steps. The week will end with a set of multiple-choice questions to check your understanding, followed by a recap of this week’s learning and a quick look forward to Week 4. Ending, as ever, with some prompts for your reflective diary.

Course Glossary

Don’t forget, we have created a glossary that explains some of the specific terms mentioned within the course. Please feel free to download.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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