Plan For Improving Mental Health Care For Muslims

Faith, racism and community interaction are some of the biggest issues facing Muslims with mental health issues according to a report. Research was conducted by Sharing Voices (Bradford ) (SVB) – a charity devoted to mental health in the inner-city. SVB released its findings at a meeting after its AGM. SVB patron Lord Kamlesh Patel, who is also head of the Centre for Ethnicity and Health at the University of Bradford, spoke of the need for statutory bodies to do more to engage with ethnic minority people suffering mental health issues.

He warned health chiefs not to turn their back on rules governing equality in healthcare. “You can ignore it for a bit, but it will always come back,” he said. He praised the work of SVB, saying more needed to be done in the city, especially between statutory organisations and voluntary and community groups. “We hope that Bradford will set a bit of a benchmark,” he said.

SVB’s Community Engagement Project, which formed the basis for the report, collected research from 87 Muslim men and women aged between 18 and 40. The research showed five distinct themes caused problems for most participants:
– politics and personal identity: how Muslim people identified themselves in the community
– faith and lifestyle: how Islam helped them deal with difficulties and how it worked in everyday life
– identity and paranoia: how the participants felt they were perceived by others
– individual racism: how they felt their race affected how people treated them
– community denial: how their own communities dealt with mental health problems

The results prompted a series of recommendations, some of which SVB has already begun to implement.

The participants – from diverse backgrounds, not only South Asians – requested safe-spaces. It was recommended statutory health services and community and voluntary groups should provide this, allowing time and room for prayer and meditation in a single-sex environment. It was also identified that Islamic scholars of both sexes should work alongside statutory and voluntary organisations.

The report stated providing Muslim service users with choice would be a big factor in improving recovery.

The £20,000 research project was funded by the National Institute for Mental Health in England.