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The Muslim Mental Health Alliance

Introduction to the Muslim Mental Health Alliance
I’m Chair of the Muslim Mental Health and Wellbeing Alliance, and we came about in March 2020 at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. We were set up originally as part of BIMA, the British Islamic Medical Association, and then as part of the Muslim Council of Britain. So we were set up as a network of Muslim mental health organisations to provide advice, support, guidance on mental health relating to the pandemic. And so for the first 18 months of the pandemic, we were doing things like monthly webinars on different topics that we found were increasing within the Muslim community that people were finding more and more important. So, for example, we did one on suicide, we had one on eating disorders.
We had one on children and young people’s mental health. So lots of different topics. And then in October, 2021 we had our first conference. So that was an all-day conference where we covered different aspects of mental health and we held it on World Mental Health Day under the theme of mental health in an unequal world.
Asma: Thank you. That’s lovely. Thank you. But can you just tell me a little bit more about the reasons behind why the alliance was set up. So it was set up during the pandemic last name? Yes. So the person that set us up really saw a need for the Muslim community to come together, not just in mental health, but in lots of different aspects. So at that time, we were called a CRG, a coronavirus response group, and lots of different CRGs were set up. So we had our one, which was the mental health CRG.
There was a scholar’s one providing advice so, for example, on when restrictions were coming in on places of worship, for example, there was a medical one giving advice on, you know, social distancing, washing hands, those kind of things. And then later on the vaccines. And then without one, the mental health one, we had all of these different Muslim mental health organisations coming together because we recognised a real need for a real need for mental health support during this time, because there was a lot of anxieties, a lot of unknowns that people were really struggling with at the beginning of the pandemic.
So as the pandemic kind of moved forward, we changed what kind of topics we wanted to cover and what kind of support we were offering in line to what we were seeing on the ground. So a lot of our organisations who are part of the alliance, are helplines or medical or so medical professionals or counsellors and psychotherapists. So really, from what they were seeing with their clients, we kind of changed our approach. And now we’re in an alliance together. We’re working hopefully post-pandemic to see what we can do in kind of a broader sense.
Asma: Yeah. Okay. And so what, what, what do you see kind of as outcomes or outputs from the alliance, what you’re going to be, so you’ve mentioned the conference, what’s coming next? That’s a good question! And so after the, the conference that we had, we really kind of took stock and assessed what we needed. So we are looking for other Muslim mental health organisations to join us. We’ve become an alliance which is now purely made up of Muslim mental health organisations. So organizations that are providing some kind of support in some way. And we also have a qualified imam who sits on the alliance with us as well.
So going forward, we’re looking at seeing what support we can offer as a collective. We found that people really benefitted from the conference kind of it was the first kind of Muslim mental health conference held in the UK of that size. I think we had over 200 people attend on the day, I think close to 300. And so we really have found that people benefited from that and we are hoping to do more conferences in the future. We are hoping that organisations from within the alliance can kind of group together and form more partnerships and just continue to see where we are needed and what we can do to support the Muslim community.
Asma: That sounds really positive. A lot of our learners, finally, a lot of our learners we anticipate will be from non-Muslim organisations and will be non-Muslim practitioners as well. Do you see the work of the alliance developing in a way in which it might inform the practice of non-Muslim organisations and practitioners as well? So I think it already has. I mean, a lot of our attendees to our previous conference were non-Muslim practitioners who found it really useful to see from a Muslim’s point of view what, you know, for example, going through mental health services look like or what support has looked like and how faith can be used in support services.
So I think that’s something we’re really looking at for the future as well, how to kind of advise Muslim practitioners on how best to support their Muslim clients

In this video, Jamilla Hekmoun, chair of the Muslim Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), introduces the Alliance and it’s aims.

Alongside her work on the Alliance, Jamilla is trustee for the Muslim Youth Helpline and is completing a PhD on the topic of the mental health of Muslim men. Jamilla shared her lived experience of mental health problems in Week 3 of the course.

The MMHA (renamed from Muslim Mental Health and Wellbeing Alliance) came together in March 2020, as a Coronavirus Response Group that focused on Muslim mental health. Their aim was to provide information, support and guidance on mental health relating to the pandemic because they recognised that people were dealing with issues that might impact on their mental health. This included monthly webinars on topics relevant to the Muslim community, including suicide and the mental health of young people (links to webinar recordings are included below).

MMHA members have continued to work together and seek to expand the Alliance to include other member organisations who provide mental health support for Muslims, with the aim of working responsively to support the mental health needs of Muslims.

MMHA includes some of the most prominent grass-roots Muslim mental organisations in Britain. Here is a list of the members of MMWHA, including links to their websites.

Members of the Muslim Mental Health Alliance

  • Inspirited Minds: a Muslim mental health charity that provides support for those experiencing mental health difficulties
  • Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network: an international network for Muslim Counsellors, Psychotherapists, Psychiatrists and Counselling Psychologists
  • British Islamic Medical Association: a national organisation that aims for Muslim healthcare professionals in the UK. BIMA also provides medical information for mental health
  • Muslim Youth Helpline: point of crisis support for those that need emotional support and signposting. Their core service is a free and confidential Helpline, available nationally via the telephone, email, live chat, and letters. The service uses male and female volunteers trained in basic counselling skills to respond to client enquiries
  • Approachable Parenting: support service for Muslim families, and training for organisations who work with Muslim families.
  • Muslim Women’s Network UK: services for Muslim women include a national specialist faith and culturally sensitive Helpline which offers information, support, guidance, and referrals for those who are suffering from, or at risk of abuse, and other problems
  • Sakoon: Islamic counselling service for individuals, couples, and families. Sakoon supports the wellbeing of people, communities and organisations through counselling, education, outreach, and advocacy
  • MindWorks UK: psychological support service for women who have suffered from or are going through domestic violence and sexual abuse. It works collaboratively with other agencies to provide support.

Other significant Muslim-led grassroots mental health organisations who are not members of MMHA include:

The Lantern Initiative: a grassroots community organisation providing mental health events, workshops, and seminars. Working to raise awareness of Muslim mental health issues and empower Muslim communities

Muslim Community Helpline: A national organisation for women, men, youth, and children providing a confidential, non-judgmental listening and emotional support service.


Recordings of MMHA webinars:

Coping with change: Mental Health CRG Webinar – Coping With Change – YouTube

Men’s mental health and the role of fatherhood: Mental Health CRG Webinar – Men’s Mental Health and the Role of Fatherhood – YouTube

Muslims and suicide prevention: Mental Health CRG Webinar – Muslims & Suicide Prevention – YouTube.

Over to you

Have you heard of any of these organisations before, and if so, which ones? Which one would be most helpful to you in your work, and why?

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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