Health
12:05 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Breaking the stigma: Training imams to identify mental illness

The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Later this week in Dearborn, doctors, psychologists, social workers, and religious leaders from around the world will gather for the Sixth Annual Muslim Mental Health Conference. According Dr. Farha Abbasi, an MSU assistant professor of psychiatry and a founder of the conference, this is one of the very few of its kind in the world, if not the only one.

It’s a chance for mental health professionals and religious leaders to network and discuss ways to address mental illness in Muslim communities around the world. One successful program that Dr. Abbasi came up with a few years ago is what’s called a Mental Health First Aid training program for imams and community leaders. Imams are often the first person outside the family that many devout Muslims turn to when they’re struggling to help a relative who may be suffering from a mental illness.

Current State's Joe Linstroth talks with Dr. Abbasi and Imam Ali Sulaiman Ali, the director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit. He went through the training program a few years ago.

Dr. Abbasi points out that most discussions about the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev focus on his religion, while ignoring the fact that he was likely suffering from a severe mental illness.

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