Maslaha produced a series of short films in partnership with AT Medics, examining common concerns about depression, anxiety and support amongst Muslim communities. The films and website, talkingfromtheheart.org/, were released during Mental Health Awareness Week 2013.
The films combine the advice of medical professionals and religious leaders to find a new language of communication, address stigma, and demystify support and therapy.
The resource is endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), and is designed to be used by GPs and primary care practitioners with their clients. It can also be used by community organisations and mosques, to raise awareness, change attitudes and signpost support.
The rise of mental health issues in Muslim communities and lack of practical resources is a commonly raised concern amongst medical professionals. Frequently, minority communities are not accessing or receiving effective support. 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.
In partnership with AT Medics, London’s largest group of NHS GP practices, Maslaha has produced the ‘Talking From The Heart’ films focusing on mental health and depression. Working with doctors, nurses, patients, psychotherapists, Islamic scholars and imams, from the Somali, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, the films address some of the common concerns about depression and anxiety, such as: ‘I will bring shame to my family and community.’
“Those issues which the person keeps inside, instead of seeking help, cause further damage to the person,” says Somali psychotherapist Fadumo Omar Mohammed. Mukhtar Osman, imam of York Way Mosque, says: “As the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said to one of his companions, tie up your camel and then trust in God that it won’t run away; therefore, it is important that we act as well as have faith.”
The short films in three spoken languages (Somali, Urdu and Bengali/Sylheti) with English subtitles can be viewed online at: talkingfromtheheart.org, which also has further information about the project and links to support services. To order DVDs, please email: email@example.com.
The rise of mental health issues in Muslim communities is a concern that is constantly raised in the course of our health work.
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 a 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.
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.
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.
In collaboration with Somali, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi community groups, counsellors, psychotherapists, clients, imams and GPs, Maslaha developed these four short films - Talking From The Heart - 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 combine medical and religious advice to find a new language of communication, address stigma, and demystify support and therapy.
The latest news and comments about our work in mental health...
London’s largest group of NHS GP practices, with a strong track record of providing high-quality care, for over 75,000 patients across 15 primary care sites. Specialising in primary care, AT Medics work to provide innovative, high-quality healthcare with local communities co-designing the model of care. AT Medics commissioned and funded the resource.
Midaye Somali Development Network
Based in Ladbroke Grove, Midaye supports the local Somali community through information sessions, welfare advice, English classes, events and workshops, supplementary schools, and arranging individual and group therapy.
“Well done to everyone involved, I am very proud and amazed how clear and easy to understand the clips are. I like the way the topics are divided, what surprised me more and really attracted to the film the knowledge of the Imam and how he is encouraging the community by providing the right information and backing these up with the Qur'an and what Allah said to the Muslims.
Fadumo was excellent, her professionalism really came out; everything she said was very encouraging.
I can imagine a lot of work went into this, but it is worthwhile as the film came out to be very powerful and can encourage the Somali speaking community to seek help at the right time.”
Filsan Ali, Midaye Somali Development Network
Mind Tower Hamlets & Newham
Supported throughout the research stage, as well as script development. Mind representative Abdirashid Gulaid features in one of the project films.
Mind Harrow (Hayaan Project)
Supported throughout the research stage. The Hayaan Project is run by Abdi Gure for the local Somali community, providing bi-weekly information sessions on a variety of topics, including health issues.
Marlborough Family Service (NHS)
A family therapy centre based in St John’s Wood. Three therapists from there – Rabia Malik, Manu Rahman, and Rakhee Haque – feature in the project films and supported throughout script development.
“I can simply tell you, it's really a WONDERFUL job you have done… Me and my whole family watched the video together, they were happy, particularly my son-in-law, who is working as a GP in Nottingham. He appreciated much and said that it would be a good helping guide for GPs to talk with their clients of mental health issues from the point of culture and faith.”
Manu Rahman, Marlborough Family Service (therapist in Bengali film)
An Islamic college based in Whitechapel, running classes, courses and supporting the local Muslim community.
York Way Mosque
Based near King’s Cross, the mosque also runs supplementary schools and classes for the local community.