Mental Health

AMHP aspires to be a leader in improving public health through efforts inspired by Islamic tradition, in three distinct ways: (1) professional development of Muslims across health professions (2) health education and community outreach (3) state and national advocacy on issues of access and awareness.

In January 2012, we identified mental health literacy as the number one area of public health concern among Muslims in the U.S. Many of our community’s challenges regarding trauma, substance abuse, and moderate to severe mental health disorders stem from the following: We often (1) suffer stigma within the community to talk about our issues, (2) face perceived or real challenges that mental health providers will not understand our needs in an appropriate cultural context, and (3) face an increasingly Islamophobic environment.

Our Vision

  • Understanding MMH Needs
  • Increasing access to MMH providers and services
  • Creating and standardizing Islamic therapeutic approaches to MH
  • Establish awareness campaigns
  • Creating a base infrastructure and vision for the field

Over the past years, AMHP has been able to:

  • Conduct Mental Health First Aid program for Imams and Chaplains (Al-Hibri Grant recipient)
  • Establish a directory of Muslim Mental health professionals
  • Expand mental health team
  • Conduct series of Mental Health Webinars in 2012 in partnership with The Departement of Health and Human Services (HHS): Imams/Chaplains, Youth, Trauma

Partnership with HHS on “Matters of the Mind”

Over the last two years, AMHP has worked to elevate the national dialogue, particularly to reduce stigma and bring awareness, on mental health within Muslim communities. We had strong evidence that Muslims were not accessing professional care, often because their imams and community leaders were dissuading them. To help address this challenge, we worked with The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to hold a national dialogue on mental health in Muslim communities, convening scholars, practitioners, and imams from across the country.

As a result of that meeting, we spearheaded “Matters of the Mind”, a national webinar series in partnership with HHS and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), in which we engaged imams, Muslim community leaders, and non-Muslim health professionals who have an interest in Muslim health. The webinars reached approximately 1,350 viewers online. The “Matters of the Mind” initiative also included three seminars at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Virginia, which reached an audience of 150. Our topics have ranged from the role of Muslim leaders in mental health awareness to understanding mental trauma to challenges of youth resilience in the face of alienation and discrimination. In 2012 and 2013, we also hosted panels at ISNA’s Annual Convention, a convening of tens of thousands of American Muslims, focusing on addiction and grief as well as anxiety and depression.

Muslim Youth

Due to the popularity of the “Matters of the Mind” series and the apparent need for increased attention to Muslim youth, AMHP and HHS decided to focus specifically on the variety of health concerns facing Muslim youth at another meeting in August 2013. This meeting brought HHS officials together with educators, youth directors, chaplains, health professionals, and other leaders in the Muslim community for a 3-hour working meeting. Again, mental health remained a primary concern, and a working group was convened to move forward on this issue.

In order to determine the best next steps for this effort, the working group organized several focus groups with Muslim college students in the Washington, DC area to identify some of their greatest challenges. Results from both the focus groups and anonymous surveys indicated these students most often struggle with: relationship conflicts (with family, friends, and in dating); addictions to alcohol, drugs, and pornography; and identity issues and crises of faith. Students indicated that the biggest barrier to their ability to seek help was often the lack of awareness about counseling and mental health that persists in the broader Muslim community. They also indicated it would be helpful to have Muslim-specific resources to direct them where to go if they or their friends face a mental health issue. AMHP is primarily interested in addressing the first major barrier—awareness—and is in the process of developing a prototype solution with key mental health experts in the Muslim community.

Mental Health First Aid Training (MHFA)

AMHP has also received funding for a grant to provide Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to Muslim community leaders in the Washington, DC area.The training presents a unique opportunity to engage an audience of imams, youth directors, and community leaders in order to increase capacity to identify and triage individuals in our community who might be suffering from mental health issues. This cutting edge initiative will help fulfill a great need for improved mental health awareness within our community. MHFA is an internationally recognized curriculum supported by evidence-based research and has been offered on a limited number of occasions by and for Muslims in the United States within the past year.

Photo on the Left // Saturday September 27th, 2014 Mental Health First Aid Training held in Washington, DC was an incredible collaboration between Muslim Wellness Foundation, Inc., sponsored by American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) and made possible through the generosity and support of El-Hibri Charitable Foundation. The participation in this effort was groundbreaking as it represented the FIRST training held in the Washington DC area specifically for the American Muslim community. Tweet this!!