Muslim Mental Health Conference

By Adil James, TMO

Lansing–October 6–Mental health professionals and activists from across the nation attended the 4th Annual Conference on Muslim Mental Health at Michigan State University Friday and Saturday in Lansing.

Imams, chaplains, mental health professionals and community leaders attended, including especially Dr. Farha Abbasi herself.  The format of the day was based on studying mental health using experts in the field, balanced with the experiences of imams and chaplains.

Friday there were three “basic” training courses, each followed by a module designed to give practical experience in that course, such as “Basics of Mental Illness, Basics of Boundaries; there were also “Advanced” courses on Substance Abuse, Suicide Prevention, and Adolescent Interventions.

Saturday began early with a presentation by Wahiba Abu Ras on the Imam’s Role in Mental Health Promotion, consisting of a study of 22 mosques in New York City’s Muslim community.

Another course seemed to crystalize the intended effect of the two day event, called “A Work in Progress:  Effective Collaboration between Imams and Islamic Chaplains in the Muslim community.”
There was a presentation by army chaplain Abdul Rasheed Muhammad, and finally there was a presentation on Muslim students in America.

Speakers included Hamada Hamid, Amal Killawi, and imams Jones, AbdulMalik Negedu, Matiniah Yahya.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero wrote a letter of support in which he praised especially Dr. Farha Abbasi for her vision of empowering and training imams, chaplains, and community leaders as mental health workers.

Halim Naeem, a doctor in psychology and youth coordinator from Redford gave a khutba on mental health in Islam on Friday.  “This conference is very important,” he said, “Muslims are growing in the US and so are our mental health issues–mental health is health, as significant as physical health, therefore we have to have competent, trained Muslim mental health professionals who can address the needs and issues of care for Muslims.”


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