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Overcoming contradictions – Muslim practitioners in mainstream services

Suhayl describes contradictions while providing support for Muslim people living with gambling addiction while working in mainstream mental health

In this video Suhayl, BAME Programme Manager for Beacon Counselling Trust, describes some of the contradictions he comes across in his work of providing support for Muslim people living with gambling addiction while working in a mainstream mental health support service.

Based on his own professional experiences, Suhayl has a sense that there is an appetite among non-Muslim mental health support providers to receive training in cultural competence and cultural awareness, particularly when working with Muslim clients. Suhayl does display his own Muslim identity when providing support to other Muslims and this is received positively at Beacon Counselling Trust.

Suhayl talks about a contradiction that he comes across in relation to his Muslim identity and his mental health support work. Because gambling is legal in Britain, emphasis is placed on ‘gambling responsibly’ in mental health promotion and support services for gambling addiction. When Suhayl works in Muslim communities, he does not feel he can talk about responsible gambling (gambling is haram, impermissible, in Islam). So, instead, he focuses on harm reduction and supporting those who are struggling with addiction. Beacon Counselling Trust recognise this tension and have supported Suhayl’s work in adapting community workshops to take into consideration the views that ethnic minority communities hold about gambling not being acceptable.

Suhayl feels that his approach is accepted and encouraged because research evidence shows that South Asian groups face greater harm because of addiction than those from other ethnic groups. Beacon Counselling Trust appreciate Suhayl’s knowledge and experiences of Islam and Muslim communities and trust his ability to develop a framework for working with these communities to increase the number of ethnic minority people seeking support for gambling addiction.

Like Sufyan in an earlier step, Suhayl challenges the concept of Muslim communities as ‘hard to reach’. Suhayl thinks that cultural awareness of the ways in which talking about addiction can be acceptable in ethnic minority communities, and understanding the stigma and shame associated with addiction in those communities, can help to overcome barriers to engagement.


Beacon Counselling Trust.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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