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Muslim communities – ‘hard to reach’ or ‘easy to access’?

Dr Dogra questions the labelling of Muslim communities and marginalised groups in British society as ‘hard to reach’ by academics and researchers

In the final step of this activity, Dr Dogra questions the labelling of Muslim communities, and other marginalised groups in British society, as ‘hard to reach’ by academics and researchers.

He thinks this labelling can be an excuse for not investing the resources required to build long-term relationships with marginalised communities.

Dr Dogra instead sees Muslim communities as ‘easy to access’. In his research, Dr Dogra has found that volunteers across hundreds of mosques in the UK are involved in health promotion activities (Rai et al 2019). When researchers and service providers take the time to build trust, rapport, and to carefully explain what they want to achieve and how it will benefit the local community, volunteers in most disadvantaged communities will work collaboratively, and with warmth, generosity, and commitment.

Instead, Dr Dogra suggests that Muslim communities are ‘easy to access’ – if the time is taken to develop more appropriate methods for engaging with people in these communities.

Throughout this activity, we have seen evidence for the ways in which Muslim communities can support better mental health, and the potential for Muslim communities to act as protective factors for mental health problems. Recommendations, from our contributors and from The Lantern Initiative report (2021) make it clear that there is still work to be done to make the most of Muslim communities as a resource for better mental health. This will require action from a range of stakeholders including faith organisations, voluntary and community groups, clinical commissioning groups and, importantly, Muslim communities themselves.

In the next step we move on to Activity 4, where we find out more about the experiences of Muslim practitioners who work in mainstream mental health services.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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