By Aatif Ali Bokhari
TMO Managing Editor
The seventh Muslim Mental Health conference will be held March 26 to 29 at the Dearborn Inn located in Dearborn Michigan. The conference is the only recurring meeting of Muslim faith leaders, behavioral scientists, and health providers in the United States.
Dr. Halim Naeem, President of the Institute of Muslim Mental Health, spoke with The Muslim Observer about the event, which will focus this year on trauma, and is sponsored in part by the Michigan State Institute of International Health.
“We have a training component for people from different walks of life the first day,” said Naeem. “The training is geared towards a religious population, and the Department of Health and Human Services is coming in to collaborate. The second and third day is about research brought up by Muslim professionals.
“Friday night we have narratives of pain. That is going to be a really big deal. There will be no cameras allowed because people will be really candid. Saturday is going to be more about panel discussions and Sunday is going to be about mosque tour, different delegates will get to go to different communities. The exposure will be great.”
Some mosques will only be viewed externally and others will be explored more thoroughly within. The featured mosques include: The Islamic Center of America, The Islamic House of Wisdom and The Muslim Center of Detroit.
The conference is already over capacity with around 200 people attending throughout the weekend. “We’re going to have many imams coming, this is the third conference that a significant number of imams will be attending,” said Naeem.
The conference will provide a mental health first aid day for imams and others in congregations who may be first providers for those with psychiatry disorders.
“Trauma is huge because of everything that is going on, all the islamophobia, all the incidents, all the things Muslims of different backgrounds and cultures in the community face,” said Naeem, explaining this year’s theme. “It’s at a critical tipping point where this islamophobia is real, and Muslims in this country who are predominantly from abroad are seeing this as very real. Mental health awareness really opens ways for people to heal.”