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Islamically senstive mental health support

Dr Ahmed Hankir describes how better mental health support might be provided within mainstream healthcare settings
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I think we really need to target the workforce to improve mental health support,
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and this can be achieved through high quality training 00:00:30.560 –> 00:00:33.360 that is faith informed.
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I think at the very least an awareness certainly among non-Muslim practitioners of how important a role Islam plays in the lives of many Muslim people is absolutely necessary. It’s essential. Moreover, Islam is a precious resource that can be drawn upon, and imams in the hospital chaplaincy, for example, can help practitioners access and mobilize this resource for the benefit of Muslim patients with mental health problems.
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There is a huge amount of distrust from Muslim patients towards mainstream mental health care services. A practitioner, Muslim and non-Muslim alike can simply say, Salaam, peace be upon you. And this can be enough to help develop a verbal rapport and establish a therapeutic alliance with Muslim patients. Often a Muslim may develop psychological distress if they feel they have deviated from sirat al mustaqeem, the path of Islam, the path of righteousness. I think a realisation of this and being able to reassure a Muslim patient that having a mental health problem is not a reflection of weak faith can go a long way.
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Also, the recognition that biases, conscious and unconscious, implicit and explicit, may influence the quality of care that is provided to Muslim patients. And this must be recognised and addressed. So to summarise, high quality training to equip practitioners with basic knowledge about Islam and how this can contribute to mental health recovery and mental health resilience can help to improve mental health support. Unconscious implicit bias training can also be beneficial to reduce the racism and Islamophobia that Muslim patients experience in mental health care settings.

In this video, Dr Ahmed Hankir, describes how better mental health support might be provided within mainstream healthcare settings. His recommendations can be described as an Islamically-sensitive approach to mental health.

Dr Hankir makes the following recommendations for Islamically-sensitive mental health support.

  • High quality faith-informed training for practitioners to equip practitioners with a basic knowledge about Islam.
  • A better awareness of the important role that Islam plays in the lives of Muslims.
  • Recognition of Islam as a resource for better mental health resilience and recovery.
  • Seek advice from trusted religious practitioners, such as Muslim hospital chaplains.
  • Tackling distrust among Muslim people towards mainstream health care services.
  • The use of simple customary language, such as saying ‘salaam’ in greeting can help to develop a rapport.
  • Attain sufficient knowledge about Islam to reassure Muslim clients that their mental health problems are not, for example, a punishment from God or an indicator of weak faith.
  • Address bias or discrimination (racism and Islamophobia) against Muslims among mental health support providers.

Over to you

Make a note in your reflective diary about whether, how, and why you might consider including this approach as part of your practice so that you are ready to take part in the discussion step for this week (Step 2.27).

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Understanding Muslim Mental Health

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