The rise of mental health issues in Muslim communities is a concern that is constantly raised in the course of our health work.
Maslaha worked in partnership with doctors from AT Medics, specialist counsellors, therapists, Islamic scholars and imams to develop an online resource and short films in Somali, Urdu and Bengali/Sylheti, exploring mental health and therapy by combining medical and faith advice.
During our work in diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and perinatal mortality, nurses and doctors continually raised depression as a commonly occurring issue amongst their Muslim patients. There is recognition that not enough is being done to tackle this in terms of education, for both patients and practitioners.
Any treatment is made more difficult by the fact that there is no direct translation for the word 'depression' in Urdu, Sylheti, Arabic and Somali, for instance.
As such, as a ‘Western’ illness with ‘Western’ treatment, effective support can be complicated, drawn-out and challenging.
The stigma of 'mental illness' often means that those who don't feel well fear being isolated and ostracised from their community, so don't seek support.
For those who do seek support, there are often communication problems - linguistically, culturally and spiritually - with medical professionals. A number of health practitioners have commented on feeling limited in providing effective care and support, if the clients reach them at all.
What We Did
AT Medics, London's largest group of NHS GP practices, commissioned Maslaha to produce a resource focusing on mental health and depression. Through our research with doctors, nurses, patients and therapists, it became apparent that there was a lack of practical resources particularly amongst the Somali, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, coupled with a very strong sense of stigma.
In collaboration with Somali, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi community groups, counsellors, psychotherapists, clients, imams and GPs, Maslaha developed these four short films in three spoken languages (Somali, Urdu and Bengali/Sylheti) with English subtitles, which can be used by primary care practitioners with their clients, or with community groups.
The films will help you to:
See what happens during a talking therapy session (in Somali only: 'Finding out about therapy')
Listen to what the Qur’an has to say about keeping healthy, including mind, body and soul
Learn more about what is meant by 'depression,' 'anxiety' and what support is available, including therapy
Deal with some of the common concerns many people have about seeking support, such as: 'I don't need help, and can deal with everything myself,' or 'I will bring shame to my family and community.'