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Cultural humility as good practice

Dr Ahmed Hankir explains the concept of cultural humility

In this step, NHS Consultant Psychiatrist and expert by professional and lived experience, Dr Ahmed Hankir explains the concept of cultural humility.

Cultural humility is a concept that refers to a way of interacting with others that is open to recognising aspects of cultural identity that are most relevant to the person you are talking to. This includes acknowledging what you do not know or understand about cultural practices and beliefs. The approach also represents a commitment to learning more to improve your understanding, and to addressing inequalities and imbalances of power.

Dr Hankir summarises this as the ability to “adopt an open heart, and an open mind, when interacting with others”. He goes on to explain the approach in relation to mental health support practice, referring to the work of Waters and Asbill (2013).

Importantly under this approach, knowledge is power. While those who provide support may have greater professional, scientific, or religious knowledge, the patient is the expert on their own experiences, personal history, and preferences.

Working in partnership with organisations that represent and advocate for marginalised groups is a core feature of cultural humility. These groups can be influential in affecting change and addressing structural inequalities in society.

Cultural humility is an approach that can be undertaken by all practitioners who provide mental health support, including Muslim and non-Muslim practitioners, and across mental health and religious settings. The approach is particularly useful for practitioners who seek to work within a holistic, bio-psycho-social-spiritual framework for understanding and supporting mental health in Muslim communities.

At 09:12 in this video Dr Ahmed Hankir talks about reciting Surat al-Fatihah. Surat al-Fatihah, or “The Opening” is the first “Sura” or verse, of the Qur’an. It plays especially important role in Islamic worship, being an obligatory part of the daily prayer, repeated several times during the day.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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