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Muslim communities as protective factors for mental health

The role of Muslim communities as a resource for positive mental health experiences, and a protective factor against mental health problems

In this activity, we take a closer look at the role of Muslim communities as a resource for positive mental health experiences, and a protective factor against mental health problems.

In this video, Aamnah draws on recent research that forms the basis of a chapter she has recently authored on the topic of Muslims and Mental Health for a forthcoming book on Muslims and health inequalities (reference below).

In her response, Aamnah highlights that mental health stigma in South Asian communities can mean that they experience mental health in distinctive ways. Aamnah refers to alternative ways of coping with mental health problems among Muslims that might include consulting pirs (spiritual healers) or using taviz (protective amulets). She also says that younger Muslims, who were born in Britain, may experience and understand mental health in distinctive ways compared to people of their parents’ generation, particularly those of the first generation. Aamnah emphasises the diversity and variation among and within Muslim communities in terms of their understandings and experiences of mental health.

Through her research, Aamnah has found that in areas of Bradford where there are established faith and cultural community groups and social networks, rates of mental health problems are lower than expected. This may be a result of these faith and cultural communities providing some protection against mental health problems. Also, these areas may benefit from active voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations that work in ways that are tailored to the specific needs of the communities in which they are located. VCS organisations can often work more flexibly and responsively than statutory mental health support providers (like the NHS or social services) and are located in everyday community spaces, which might reduce the stigma around seeking mental health support.

In their recent report, the Lantern Initiative, a grassroots mental health charity for Muslims, made the following recommendations for community organisations around Muslim mental health:

  • Centering indigenous and Islamic ways of knowing and integrating these with relevant psychological counselling skills; being mindful of engaging with and maintaining a decolonising perspective.
  • Actively and openly challenge common misconceptions.
  • Provide workshops that inform and educate communities about mental health issues and challenge misinformation.
  • Reach those who do not usually have the capacity to access mental health education, by doing targeted outreach work.
  • Provide training and information for communities on patient confidentiality laws; include laws pertaining to healthcare systems as well as those pertaining to workplace-funded counselling and others.
  • Ensure programmes are inclusive of minorities within minorities. Research each individual community demographic and needs.
  • Be trauma informed.

(The Lantern Initiative CIC, 2021)


The Muslim Youth Helpline provide a non-directional, non-judgmental, faith and culturally sensitive support service for Muslim young people. They can be contacted by phone, online chat, or email.

Over to you

Think about ways in which you might work with Muslims communities as a resource for better mental health. Can you think about one factor that would enable you to do this, and one potential challenge?

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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