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Spaces for mental health support – a shared responsibility

Suhayl Patel explains the need for rehabilitation centres for addiction in British Muslim communities

In this video, Suhayl Patel, BAME Programmes Manager at Beacon Counselling Trust, explains the need for rehabilitation centres for addiction in British Muslim communities.

A Muslim-specific space would include Muslim practitioners who are trained to professional standards in mental health support and who are knowledgeable and grounded in Islamic approaches to mental health. For example, employing imams who are trained in providing mental health support as support workers.

Currently, most Muslim people struggling with addiction, and other mental health problems, rely on mainstream mental health support which may not be faith sensitive. Access to specialist faith-informed mental health support is limited and this leaves Muslims reliant on imams who are unlikely to be trained in providing mental health support.

Suhayl feels that the Muslim communities themselves have a crucial role to play in creating these spaces. He observes that whilst Muslim communities do pool finances to invest in mosque infrastructure, the same investment is not being made in relation to mental health support. Suhayl sees this as a ‘tragedy’. Suhayl recommends that Muslim communities give this more consideration.

Suhayl suggests that Muslim faith institutions and mainstream statutory support providers, such as the NHS, should work collaboratively, particularly around providing training that allows Muslim practitioners to provide mental health support to relevant professional standards. Mainstream services might also consider incorporating Islamic holistic therapies for health and wellbeing, such as hijama (cupping).

The Lantern Initiative report makes the following recommendation around safe spaces in Muslim communities: “Faith-based centres need to work on making their spaces feel safe, non-judgmental and impartial. Consider how this could be done both physically by creating designated spaces, and through encouraging cultural shifts in attitudes.” (The Lantern Initiative et al. 2021).

Over to you

Do you agree with Suhayl that Muslim and mainstream organisations can work together to create ‘safe spaces’ for Muslims with mental health problems? Share your ideas around how this might be achieved.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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